Project Management Institute

Make it happen

too many organizations can't implement strategy; here's a framework for success


By Andrew Robinson, PMP

Let's see if this sounds familiar. Your organization's executive team convenes an off-site meeting in the fourth quarter to develop the strategy for the following year. After reviewing recent performance and forward-looking market data and then brainstorming, executives settle on the strategy. As the new year arrives, management begins executing the strategy with great expectations. But as months go by, day-to-day responsibilities loom larger, and the team's focus on the strategy wanes.

How is it that organizations are often so bad at following through on something as basic as strategy?

Why does the execution of strategy ultimately often take a back seat to more mundane activities? A few possibilities exist:

1. A significant event that detours the organization

2. Poor delegation of execution responsibilities

3. No resources (e.g., time and money) devoted to the execution

4. Lack of continued senior executive focus on execution of strategy

With the exception of the first possibility, the excuses are stunning. How is it that organizations are often so bad at following through on something as basic as strategy?

The graphic presented above offers a framework and process for ensuring that strategy actually gets implemented. The top bar is fairly self-explanatory but emphasizes the fact that people, process and technology impact strategy execution. Metrics for success need to be identified.

The middle bar is where the magic happens: It's where the power of project management and/or a project management office can be applied. The key? Make the strategy actionable by creating an integrated master plan and calendar. Then bring scheduling and reporting on these activities into job responsibilities. Whoever is tasked with this should have access to the C-suite, where periodic performance reviews (noted in the bottom bar) should take place.

Being able to execute organizational strategy effectively should yield benefits both expected and unexpected. Executives and employees enjoy a boost of morale and pride when focused on reaching new and important goals. An attitude of empowerment, discipline and passion emerges, and confidence in success builds. The possibilities for an organization with the clear ability to execute a strategy and engage passionate employees are tremendous. PM

img Andrew Robinson, PMP, is COO of Robbins Gioia in Alexandria, Virginia, USA. He has worked in management consulting for over 25 years and can be reached at
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