Read in about 10 minutes ~  Share this page:

Strategy implementation is hard!

Effective strategy implementation is of critical importance to the modern organisation: even though few strategies are successfully implemented, organisations continue to invest large amounts both on their implementation and on developing new ones.

In many organisations, investing to be better at implementing the strategy may offer better value than investing to develop a new / different strategy.

Multiple studies have revealed the reasons why the failures occur, and these have lead to the identification of two related dimensions upon which organisations must focus:

  • Configuration - Ensuring that the organisation has the management structures and / or processes to support the additional tasks required to implement a strategy
  • Communication - Ensuring that the organisation’s internal communications about the strategy and associated implementation programme are effective

The two dimensions explain why some efforts to improve strategy implementation fail:

  • For example, adding a ‘Strategy Management Office’ (SMO) can be part of the steps needed to correct issues in Configuration - but on its own it may not be enough to address other issues within the Configuration dimension - such as wider management process integration.  Further, adding an SMO may also fail to address the issues found in the Communication dimension.
For more on how these two dimensions were identified, read Gavin Lawrie’s article “Five Steps to Achieve Strategic Success” in our Resources Area.

Some years ago a US academic reviewed and compared the most well know recipes for strategy implementation and identified some common elements that they all shared. 

  • 2GC has used these insights to develop its own proven, practical, and integrated strategy implementation approach - the ACME Strategy Implementation framework.
  • The ACME framework underpins all of 2GC’s strategy implementation work today.

Strategy Implementation Services

Strategy Development

We help organisations to develop and document their strategic goals.

  • 2GC’s consulting team comprises highly qualified and experienced strategy consultants, ready and able to deploy a broad selection of well established strategy development tools as required.  Where a client requires specific specialist expertise - such as sector or technology specific knowledge - 2GC is able to draw upon its large network of connections to bring in such specialists as required.

Strategy Implementation

1 - Process and Capacity Development

We help organisations to develop the management processes and staff groups needed to support strategy implementation.  

  • Typically this work involves the creation or development of the unit charged with oversight of strategy implementation, such as a Project or Strategy Management office. 
  • In 2GC we go beyond this to also consider the adjustments needed to related management processes (e.g. budget setting, personal appraisal / goal setting) to ensure that processes and priority conflicts related to strategy implementation tasks are minimised. 
  • We also work to develop strategy implementation awareness and skills among an organisation's management teams.

In our strategy implementation work, we are guided by the sage comment of a pioneer of strategy implementation thinking - Lawrence Hrebiniak - who coined strategy implementation’s equivalent to medicines Hippocratic oath - his principle of minimum intervention:

In implementing strategy managers should change only what is necessary and sufficient to produce an enduring solution to the strategic problem being addressed

Implementing Strategy by Lawrence Hrebiniak & William Joyce (1984)

2 - Strategic Alignment

We help organisations to become fully aligned behind the overall corporate strategic goals.

In complex multi-layer, multi-divisional and multi-geographic organisations, aligning an organisation collectively behind an overall strategy is difficult. 

Strategic success requires pursuit of goals that are specific, and clearly differentiated from those in competing organisations. But in large organisations a single overarching strategy that can be deployed across all units usually requires adopting goals that are sufficiently generic to apply equally well to any unit.  Such generic strategies are likely to be ineffective:

  • In larger organisations, different parts of the organisation are designed to do different things, sometimes in different markets and different geographies.
  • Functional units have quite different focus from each other - with different internal cultures, operational goals, and depth of interest in the corporate strategy.

Subsidiary units can therefore find it hard to engage with generic corporate strategic statements - although the terms are understood, the unit managers may struggle to translate these statements into appropriate and relevant local goals.

2GC’s ACME framework bridge the gap between an overall strategic intent and the creation of locally relevant, actionable, interpretations of these goals. describes the steps a single entity needs to take to implement a strategy. 

2GC has worked on multiple major strategic alignment programmes for organisations across all sectors around the world, and have evolved a truly effective set of methods and tools to support efficient and effective strategic alignment projects.  2GC’s methods are tested, time efficient and cost-effective.

More on Strategy Implementation

Other material you may be interested in