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Why your strategy isn't working

Gary Getz (Managing Director and Joe Lee is an Associate of Strategos, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Joe Lee (Associate of Strategos, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Business Strategy Series

ISSN: 1751-5637

Article publication date: 8 November 2011




A key cause for missing strategy goals is that leaders do not invest the same amount of time, energy, and resources in managing the implementation of the strategy as they do in setting the strategy. They also do not realize that managing strategy execution requires well orchestrated management processes – letting existing business processes run the course will not drive the transformation required. So, in order for companies and business units to reach the audacious ambitions stated in their strategies, they must thoughtfully manage the way the strategy is implemented.


Our experience transforming Global 1000 companies for over 20 years has shown the “Three pillars of effective strategy execution” methodology to be powerful yet flexible in helping companies to deliver on strategy execution.


The three pillar approach addresses the direction, structure, and people required to be effective in strategy implementation over the planning horizon. It keeps companies from falling into the trap of emphasizing only one pillar or sub‐element (e.g. structural re‐organization, detailed interpretation of the strategy content, or employee communications) while neglecting others, and allows for ongoing adaptation and re‐balancing of the three pillars as they learn.

Practical implications

Managers should develop implementation plans that specifically address the following issues to execute their strategy effectively: direction – getting specific with strategy to the point where it is relevant for everyone and everything in the company; structure – creating an organizational architecture that shadows the strategic architecture; people – engaging and mobilizing employees for sustained commitment.


Managers must manage their progress on the three pillars in a coordinated way, ensuring that no one element gets too far ahead of the others. Many companies have failed by letting re‐organization get out in front of cascading the content of the strategy, for instance. Balance is a great virtue in implementing the three‐pillar model.



Getz, G. and Lee, J. (2011), "Why your strategy isn't working", Business Strategy Series, Vol. 12 No. 6, pp. 303-307.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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