Multiple studies have shown that there is a vast gap between corporate ambitions and
their ability to realize them. As much as 90% of all companies fail to achieve their strategic
goals, even though they have often developed detailed strategic plans with much higher
targets, than they realize. Why does this vast and persistent gap occur, and how can
companies avoid succumbing to the challenge and damaging the chance of realizing their
ambitions? That is the focal point of this thesis.
There are many causes of the gap between strategy formulation and strategy execution.
This thesis proposes two key sources; the architecture of the strategy execution process,
and a range of execution syndromes or lock-in effects, which are often the results of a
combination between the organizational configuration and management malfunction.
The architecture of the strategy execution process is often a rather neglected and ignored
part of the strategy process. The strategy typically goes right from formulation to
implementation, without truly considering the structure of the process. The two most
important elements of the strategy execution process architecture are; translation of the
strategy into manageable actions and steps and continuous adaptation of the strategy to
the corporate context.
The other main sources of strategy execution collapse – the execution syndromes - are
often difficult to detect, since they only slowly become an inherent part of the
organizational culture and composition. Like diseases, they slowly consume almost any
chance of successful strategy execution, leaving the organization paralyzed and unable to
leverage more than only incremental results. The execution syndromes covered in this
thesis are: The Resistance Syndrome, Motivation Syndrome, Development Hell
Syndrome, Groupthink Syndrome and the Underperformance Syndrome.
Organizations need three things to successfully bridge the gap between strategy
formulation and strategy execution: A structure for the strategy execution process, a
constant focus on avoiding the lock-in effects that damage strategy execution and a
method to institutionalize the strategy execution process.