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Seminal contribution to organizational alignment and strategic execution
on January 3, 2008
While the book is titled, "Executing the Strategy" it might more accurately be titled "Organizational Alignment" - strategy being only one, albeit the most central, of the domains of the Authors' brilliant and comprehensive Strategic Execution Framework (SEF).
Readers may miss one of the more subtle but most important gifts of the book which is to recognize that most failures in strategic execution come from not managing the interfaces between the various domains of the corporate organism, defined in the SEF: Ideation (Identity, Purpose, Long-Range Intention), Vision (Strategy, Goals, Metrics), Nature( Strategy, Culture, Organizational Structure), Engagement (Strategy, Portfolio Management), Synthesis (Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management), and Transition (Program Management, Project Management and Operations).
Theory of Constraints and Six Sigma aficionados take note: the greatest unaccounted for source of variability in organizational performance occurs at the interfaces between these SEF domains. Today, most organizations do not manage these interfaces at more than a superficial level, if at all. Further, the strategy domain directly interfaces with more areas of the corporate organism than any other: culture, structure, goals, metrics, and portfolio. It is no wonder that 70-90% of companies are consistently failing to execute strategies successfully.
The book succeeds well in setting out the SEF, but don't expect guidance on how to go about setting vision or strategy or improving project or portfolio management, changing culture, or setting the right metrics. Rather, each of these domains represents large bodies of knowledge, and this book's purpose is to identify them, and define the interfaces between them. The subtitle, "How to Break it Down & Get it Done" might imply the presence of more nitty-gritty how-to's than this book sets out to provide.
Another major takeaway is that the "lowly" discipline of project management will be the cornerstone of successfully executing strategy in combination with the SEF. Strategy is not just about upper management setting a bold vision in a weekend retreat and saying, "make it so". Strategic planning must account for the ripple effects through all of the organizational domains, and projects need to be chartered, resourced and managed between and within domains for the strategy to be carried off successfully.
The authors provide numerous compelling real-world examples; including many from their own consulting practices to demonstrate how correct organizational alignment leads to success and misalignment leads to failure. The authors have particular experience and success with larger organizations, where the SEF particularly shines. This book is an outstanding and seminal contribution to organizational alignment and strategic execution.