The Implementation Deficit: 2012 Corporate Strategy Priorities Survey Results
Strategists continue to struggle with many of the perennial issues they identified in the 2011 survey—developing effective implementation plans and aligning corporate and financial objectives. In regards to implementation, the focus is on developing an effective procedure for execution that includes standardized metrics and milestones. Companies newfound focus on long-term planning—looking ten or more years out for game changing opportunities and threats has strategists endeavoring to integrate future or Mega Trends within their planning process. In addition, this emphasis on long-term strategies requires strategists to demonstrate the value of Mega Trend initiatives, even though they may not show financial results for a few years.
When strategist’s challenges were analyzed by business model, strategist in B-to-B companies cite challenges with strategy implementation and integrating future or Mega Trends.. However, strategists in B-to-C companies stress additional problems such as: aligning divisional and corporate strategies and integrating sustainability into the corporate plan, in addition to strategy implementation.
To better understand the top challenges, respondents were asked to “root cause” them in terms of staffing, process, technology/systems, or strategic alignment. The root causes ran the full gamut of options from insufficient staff to a lack of strategic alignment on common objectives.
Companies continue to be cautious about resource allocation and corporate strategy functions are not exempt from this. Respondents foresee both budget and staffing levels remaining constant in 2012.
Given the perennial struggle with getting strategies implemented, respondents were asked a series of questions about their implementation practices. Strategists indicate they use a variety of best-in-class implementation practices:
- Employing a dedicated implementation team
- Ensuring that divisions—both business (profit centers) and service units (support functions like Human Resources)—create annual strategies that are aligned with the corporate strategy
- Conducting quarterly strategy execution reviews within the strategy team and with senior management
Despite using these best-in-class practices, most respondents graded their companies as “Average” regarding strategy execution. The divergence between best practices and effectiveness can be explained by additional findings from the survey:
- Implementation teams are understaffed and/or members of the team lack the “right” skill sets
- The clarity of roles between participants in strategic planning is only rated as “Average”
- Technology systems for strategy monitoring are outdated and insufficient for strategists’ needs
In conclusion, the interest in Mega Trends for planning coupled with meeting the financial expectations of stakeholders, requires strategists to develop and apply implementation and monitoring processes. To strengthen strategy implementation, strategists need to first set their own house in order: ensure the department has the appropriate people, that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and the supporting technologies are up to the task. Secondly, corporate strategy functions need to create greater transparency around roles, metrics and expectations.
Access the full report for a more detailed analysis of the survey results—by business model, corporate development challenges, and trends in post-M&A integration.