83- Myths of strategy implementation. A series of posts.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              280 words

treasure map 2

This series of posts builds on a previous series about how job design impacts on strategy implementation to focus on other systemic organisational factors. It draws on ideas from the article ‘Why Strategy Execution Unravels – and What to Do About it by Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes and Charles Sull, which was published in the Harvard Business Review in March 2015. The authors have been conducting research for nine years into how complex organisations can execute their strategies more effectively.

The research is ongoing and the article discusses some of the insights that have already become apparent. In particular, five myths about how to implement strategy are exposed and alternative approaches are discussed. The central thesis is that most organisations have clear and accepted definitions of strategy but know a lot less about how to translate a strategy into results.

The authors highlight the importance of strategy execution by referencing a recent survey they have conducted with more than 400 global CEO’s, which found that ‘executional excellence’ was the number one challenge facing corporate leaders. Other studies have found that up to 75% of large organisations struggle to implement their strategies.

Local government faces similar challenges. Councils frequently put effort into developing plans and strategies only to then fail to deliver them fully or at all. If you were to conduct an organisational self assessment (OSA) at your council it is likely to reveal that you put more effort into developing your approach and articulating it through policies and plans, than you do into implementing those plans or measuring your results and using them to improve. The role of plans and policies has been discussed in previous posts. Their intended purpose can impact on success in implementation.

The myths discussed in each of the five posts are relevant to understanding why councils fail to implement plans and how they can improve.