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The best strategy implementation framework

The ACME change management framework is central to 2GC's work on strategy implementation with senior management teams.  It builds on solid academic research into how organisations implement strategy, adapted and tailored to be easy to understand and efficient to deploy.  Helpfully it is also easy to integrate with modern Balanced Scorecard strategic design methods.

Our ACME strategy execution framework was developed by 2GC building upon original research carried out by Lawrence Hrebiniak (a Professor from Wharton Business School in the USA, whose 1984 book “Strategy Implementation” was a major milestone in the development of thinking about these issues), and Rahman Muralidharan - an Academic who wrote a powerful paper that identified a set of common strategy implementation concepts from an analysis of many strategy implementation frameworks.  The four elements are reassuringly straight forward - yet when undertaken as a set these four elements provide a powerful framework for managing strategy implementation.


If you plan to implement a strategy, it is helpful to know what it is.  Yet research has repeatedly shown that in many organisations people don't know what the strategy is - and most importantly - don't know how to relate the strategy to what they do.  So good strategy implementation has to begin with getting a clear statement of what you are trying to achieve - and importantly - a statement of how you know you have achieved it.  There are many ways that this articulation can be done, but partly mindful of the second element in the ACME framework, 2GC favours the production of a concise, quantified statement of what a strategy is intended to achieve - which turns out to also be something that can be efficiently captured in a Balanced Scorecard "Destination Statement".


It is not enough to state where you hope to get to, if an organisation is going to implement a strategy there is also a need for elements within the organisation to know what they are expected to contribute to the achievement of the strategy.  Without this clarity about what contribution is required, it is highly unlikely that the contribution will be made.  So the second element of the ACME framework is Communicate - the process of getting each unit within the organisation 'on board' with the strategy and clear about the contribution you expect them to make.  In small organisations this contribution can be clarified through the creation of a strategy map / strategic linkage model - in larger organisations through the development of aligned / cascaded Balanced Scorecards across several units.  In both cases, these are elements that naturally appear as part of a modern strategic Balanced Scorecard deployment process.


The third element of the framework is to do some monitoring - collecting information about what a team or organisation has been doing to contribute to the implementation of a strategy, and to evaluate whether that contribution is having the appropriate / required impact on the wider strategy implementation work.  Without this information strategy implementation becomes a "Fire and Forget" exercise.  Collecting and reporting this kind of information is what the Balanced Scorecard was invented to do, and so it is perhaps unsurprising that we think the most effective way to deliver this element of the ACME framework is through the deployment of modern Balanced Scorecard designs.


The work of Hrebiniak and Muralidharan that led to the development of the ACME framework emphasised above everything else the need for strategy implementation to be actively managed.  They observed that without regular management intervention to adjust a strategy in light of learning and experience (or external events) and without the organisational awareness that 'someone is watching', it was all too easy for a strategy to become a hollow activity: something that is undertaken by delivers little that is relevant or valuable.  The Engage element of the ACME framework is all about creating and using simple, robust, effective management processes that encourage the organisation to regularly review the progress of a strategy implementation programme, and use these reviews to drive the necessary changes to keep the programme on track towards the Destination.