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 new-found 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:
1. Employing a dedicated implementation team
2. 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
3. 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:
1. Implementation teams are understaffed and/or members of the team lack the “right” skill sets
Written by Holly Lyke Ho Gland
Holly is the research lead for the Growth Team Membership™ (GTM) program. Holly identifies and profiles best practices that address the main challenges faced by the leadership in key functions that support the CEO in driving growth strategies. Since joining Frost & Sullivan in 2008, Holly has developed Best Practice Guidebooks for executives in Corporate Strategy, Corporate Development, R&D, Market Research and Competitive Intelligence. In addition to her best practices work, Holly manages GTM’s annual priorities surveys of senior executives within Marketing, Corporate Strategy, Sales Leadership, Corporate Development, and Innovation/R&D. Prior to joining Frost & Sullivan, Holly worked for three years at Sam Houston State University. There she was an instructor and a research assistant on research projects analyzing public perceptions of natural resource management in natural gas, power and water.