Without effective execution, no business strategy can succeed. Unfortunately, most managers know far more about developing strategy than about executing it -- and overcoming the difficult political and organizational obstacles that stand in their way. In this book, leading consultant and Wharton professor Lawrence Hrebiniak offers the first comprehensive, disciplined process model for making strategy work in the real world. Drawing on his unsurpassed experience, Hrebiniak shows why execution is even more important than many senior executives realize, and sheds powerful new light on why businesses fail to deliver on even their most promising strategies. Next, he offers a systematic roadmap for execution that encompasses every key success factor: organizational structure, coordination, information sharing, incentives, controls, change management, culture, and the role of power and influence in your business. Making Strategy Work concludes with a start-to-finish case study showing how to use Hrebeniak's ideas to address one of today's most difficult business execution challenges: ensuring the success of a merger or acquisition.
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About the Author
Dr. Lawrence Hrebiniak is a professor in the Department of Management of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been a member of the Wharton faculty since 1976, and currently teaches courses in strategic management and strategy implementation in the Wharton M.B.A. and Executive Education programs. He held several managerial positions in industry prior to entering academia, and is a past president of the Organization Theory Division of the Academy of Management. For over two years, he was one of five Wharton faculty providing commentaries on the Wharton Management Report, a daily program on the Financial News Network.
His consulting activities and executive development programs focus on strategy implementation, the formulation of strategy, and organizational design, both inside and outside the U.S. Dr. Hrebiniak's clients have included Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Chemical Bank, Isuzu (Japan), Weyerhauser, Dun & Bradstreet, DuPont, Management Centre (Europe), the Social Security Administration, First American Bankshares, General Motors (U.S., Brazil, Japan, Venezuela), Chase Manhattan, Studio Amrosetti (Milan), and GE.
Dr. Hrebiniak's current research is concerned primarily with strategy implementation, especially the relationships among strategy, structure and performance. He is also interested in strategic adaptation as organizations change over time to remain competitive. He has authored four books, including Implementing Strategy (PHPTR 1984) and The We-Force in Management (Jossey-Bass, Inc. 1994).
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This book focuses on a critical management issue: Making strategy work or executing strategy effectively.
Theories and advice about the requisites of good planning and strategy formulation abound in management literature. A vast array of planning models and techniques has been paraded before managers over the years, and managers for the most part understand them and know how to use them effectively.
The problem with poor performance typically is not with planning, but with doing. That is, strategies often aren't implemented successfully. Making strategy work is more difficult than strategy making. Sound plans flounder or die because of a lack of execution know-how. This book focuses on execution—the processes, decisions, and actions needed to make strategy work.
What differentiates this book from others, beyond its emphasis on a critical management need? I'm excited about the present approach to execution for the six following reasons.
Learning from Experience
This book is based on data. It borrows from the experiences of hundreds of managers actually involved in strategy execution. There are multiple sources of data, which ensures complete coverage of execution-related issues. This book doesn't rely on the armchair musings of a few people relating unconnected anecdotes; it is based on real-world execution experiences, problems, and solutions—including mine over the last two decades.
What You Need to Lead
The focus of the book is on the knowledge, skills, and capabilities managers need to lead execution efforts. Its content is action- and results-oriented.
Most organizations recruit, train, and retain good managers; they are staffed by good people—even great people. Most managers are motivated and qualified people who want to perform well.
Even good people, however, can be hampered by poor incentives, controls, organizational structures, and company policies or operating procedures that inhibit their ability to execute and get things done. Even great leaders, in top management positions, will fail if they're not well versed in the conditions that affect execution success. Managers need to understand what makes strategy work. Intuition and personality simply aren't sufficient, given such a complex task. This book focuses on this knowledge and the capabilities and insights leaders need for execution success.
The Big Picture
In this book, I develop a unifying, integrated approach to execution. I focus on the big picture, as well as the nitty-gritty of the execution process and methods. I spell out a logical approach to execution and the relationships among key execution decisions.
This book not only identifies these key factors and their relationships, but also goes into detail on each of the factors needed for execution success. It provides an important, integrated approach to execution and dissects the approach to focus on its key elements, actions, or decisions. This book then provides both an overview of the execution process and an in-depth reference manual for key aspects of this process.
Effective Change Management
Leading successful execution efforts usually demands the effective management of change, and this book integrates important change-management issues into its treatment of execution.
This book discusses power, influence, and resistance to change. It focuses on real and practical change-related issues—such as whether to implement execution related changes quickly, all at once, or in a more deliberate and sequential fashion over time. I tell you why "speed kills" and explain how large, complex changes can severely hurt execution outcomes. I focus on the details of cultural change and the organizational power structure, and how they can be used to make strategy work.
Applying What You Learn
This book practices what it preaches. The final chapter shows how to apply the logic, insights, and practical advice of preceding chapters to a real, huge, and pervasive problem: Making mergers and acquisitions (M&A) work.
M&A strategies often flounder or fail; my last chapter explains why this is the case and how to increase the success of M&A efforts by applying the book's approach to execution. I also highlight the utility of the book's advice and guidelines when trying to make M&A efforts successful. I feel it is only fitting and proper to end an execution book on a positive and useful note—by showing how practical execution can be in confronting an important and pervasive real-world issue and how it can save management a lot of time, effort, and money.
The Bottom Line
Sixth and finally, the reasons above—taken together—distinguish this book significantly from other recent works, such as Bossidy and Charan's Execution (Crown Business, 2002). This book covers more of the important factors and decisions related to successful execution. It offers an empirically-based, integrative, complete approach to making strategy work and focuses more extensively on managing change than other publications dealing with implementation.
The bottom line is that my book greatly adds to and follows logically Bossidy and Charan's Execution. It is an important and necessary addition to the toolkit of managers looking to execute strategy and change effectively.
On a Final Note
Leading execution and change to make strategy work is a difficult and formidable task. For the six reasons I have listed, I believe this task can be made more logical, manageable, and successful by the present book's approach and insights.
A Few Thanks
An undertaking such as the present one is challenging and difficult because of its complexity. I alone assume responsibility for the book's content, its interpretation of data and facts, and its conclusions. Still, while the ultimate responsibility is mine, there are a number of people who helped me in my task, and I would like to recognize them for their contributions. Brian Smith of the Gartner Research Group helped immensely with the creation of the online research survey, and contributed important technical support. Cecilia Atoo of Wharton was a real stalwart as she typed the manuscript, created figures and tables, and otherwise helped meet my demands and those of the copyeditors. Many thanks are due to my editor, Tim Moore, as well as Russ Hall, Christy Hackerd, and others at Pearson Prentice Hall who helped me develop the manuscript into its present form. The anonymous reviewers who provided valuable feedback and suggestions for improving the manuscript also deserve recognition for their efforts. Finally, special thanks are due to my son, Justin, and my muse, Laura, whose encouragement, friendship, and support were constant sources of motivation to me.
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