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Management article
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Reference no. 1509
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review - OnPoint", 2005

Abstract

This is an enhanced edition of HBR article R0507E, originally published in July-August 2005. HBR OnPoint articles include the full-text HBR article plus a summary of key ideas and company examples to help you quickly absorb and apply the concepts. Despite the enormous time and energy that goes into strategy development, many companies have little to show for their efforts. Indeed, research by the consultancy Marakon Associates suggests that companies on average deliver only 63% of the financial performance their strategies promise. In this article, Michael Mankins and Richard Steele of Marakon present the findings of this research. They draw on their experience with high-performing companies like Barclays, Cisco, Dow Chemical, 3M, and Roche to establish some basic rules for setting and delivering strategy: (1) Keep it simple, make it concrete; (2) Avoid long, drawn-out descriptions of lofty goals and instead stick to clear language; (3) Debate assumptions, not forecasts; (4) Create cross-functional teams drawn from strategy, marketing, and finance to ensure the assumptions underlying your long-term plans reflect both the real economics of your company's markets and its actual performance relative to competitors; (5) Use a rigorous analytic framework; (6) Ensure that the dialogue between the corporate center and the business units about market trends and assumptions is conducted within a rigorous framework, such as that of 'profit pools'; (7) Discuss resource deployments early; (8) Create more realistic forecasts and more executable plans; (9) Clearly identify priorities; (10) Track resource deployment and results against plan, using continuous feedback to reset assumptions and reallocate resources; (11) Reward and develop execution capabilities; and (12) Motivate and develop staff. Following these rules strictly can help narrow the strategy-to-performance gap.

About

Abstract

This is an enhanced edition of HBR article R0507E, originally published in July-August 2005. HBR OnPoint articles include the full-text HBR article plus a summary of key ideas and company examples to help you quickly absorb and apply the concepts. Despite the enormous time and energy that goes into strategy development, many companies have little to show for their efforts. Indeed, research by the consultancy Marakon Associates suggests that companies on average deliver only 63% of the financial performance their strategies promise. In this article, Michael Mankins and Richard Steele of Marakon present the findings of this research. They draw on their experience with high-performing companies like Barclays, Cisco, Dow Chemical, 3M, and Roche to establish some basic rules for setting and delivering strategy: (1) Keep it simple, make it concrete; (2) Avoid long, drawn-out descriptions of lofty goals and instead stick to clear language; (3) Debate assumptions, not forecasts; (4) Create cross-functional teams drawn from strategy, marketing, and finance to ensure the assumptions underlying your long-term plans reflect both the real economics of your company's markets and its actual performance relative to competitors; (5) Use a rigorous analytic framework; (6) Ensure that the dialogue between the corporate center and the business units about market trends and assumptions is conducted within a rigorous framework, such as that of 'profit pools'; (7) Discuss resource deployments early; (8) Create more realistic forecasts and more executable plans; (9) Clearly identify priorities; (10) Track resource deployment and results against plan, using continuous feedback to reset assumptions and reallocate resources; (11) Reward and develop execution capabilities; and (12) Motivate and develop staff. Following these rules strictly can help narrow the strategy-to-performance gap.

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