Business strategy, meet execution

Study shows profound disconnect between strategy and everything else

I got an interesting teaser in the e-mail this week: “Study Suggests Nearly Half of All Leaders See a Disconnect Between Strategy and Execution.” I won’t say who sent it because they blew the execution: The so-called study wasn’t posted anywhere online, and when I called the number, they’d already left for the weekend.

A quick Google search on “disconnect between strategy and execution,” however, yielded this interesting page, which describes — using data from a Bain Consulting study — how badly most companies do at executing their strategies. Some highlights: First, 95 percent of employees in most organizations do not understand their organization’s strategy; second, 60 percent of typical organizations don’t link their strategic priorities to their budget; and perhaps most shockingly, “Two-thirds of HR and IT organizations develop strategic plans that are not linked to the organization’s strategy.” Whoa, where did we go wrong?

The authors of this research recommend the creation of a corporate “Office of Strategy Management” to coordinate strategy and execution, which sounds to me like just another layer of useless bureaucracy. Why can’t we just all communicate better? How is it that geese can fly in a perfect V every time, without ever having attended business school, while so many people fly around in circles? Honk if you know the answer.

Is your pricing strategic?: Having discovered this new Harvard Business School research site, I clicked on the home page and then to this article, “Use the Psychology of Pricing to Keep Customers Returning.” At some level, that’s what IT needs to do — keep its customers returning. We’ll ignore for a moment that the article’s dated 2002, and faithfully assume that because it’s from Harvard, it has some timeless significance.

What caught my eye was the simple statement: “Buyers are more apt to use a product right after they’ve purchased it,” which may have big implications for IT organizations focusing more on adoption and end-to-end value delivery — as most of us are these days — rather than just delivering functionality and SLAs. The article’s recommendations included practicing yield management, installment payments, and “psychologically linking payments to benefits.” If you’re using innovative pricing strategies with your customers, shoot me an e-mail. I’d love to hear from you.

Feedback loop: It’s back-to-school time, and instead of a lunch box (I’ll wait for the new Get Smart movie and buy one of those lunch boxes), I’d like to get some feedback from you all to celebrate one full year of writing this column.

I know that my column’s been distributed as far away as New Zealand and translated into languages I never would have dreamed — such as Romanian.

What I’d like to know from you is this: What have you liked/hated? Was anything memorable enough to recall? Was any of the research I’ve written about useful? And most important, what would you like to see me write more about this fall (PR professionals ignore this last one, thanks)?

Asking for feedback isn’t a natural for us old-media types. But part of the fun of writing this column is realizing that there are real people reading it, in addition to my editors. So let me hear from you — thanks in advance!