There is a widely held belief that formulation of strategy is the function of top management while execution belongs to “line management”. Is this conventional wisdom at work, or is it a misguided belief that well formulated strategy will happen?
How else can we explain that the failure to execute strategy, which must surely be the most important leadership challenge, is seldom listed in surveys of leadership issues? This despite the efforts of gurus like Kaplan and Norton, the Balanced Scorecard founders who wrote: “Less than 10 percent of well formulated strategies were executed.”
Equally puzzling is the fact that we completely discarded the advice of the acknowledged foremost management theorist, Peter Drucker, who defined management as the ability to convert the effort of their people into performance. We have disempowered managers rather than address their training needs and in the process created an execution of strategy vacuum.
Bossidy and Charan combine their proven executive and consulting talents, and summarise our failure in their book: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done”:
Execution is the great unaddressed issue in the business today. Its absence is the single biggest obstacle to success and the cause of most of the disappointments that are mistakenly attributed to other causes