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Bridging the Gap between Strategy & Execution

Whether the vision calls for digital transformation, organizational change, accelerated innovation or growth, a gap between strategy and execution is a constant danger. However, it is not inevitable.  

Organizations that have narrowed the strategy-execution gap focus on the effective execution of those critical projects and initiatives that bring strategy to life. Specifically, they follow a set of 10 ‘gap-narrowing’ principles as shown below.

As you review the list consider:

  • How many of these principles does your organization successfully apply?
  • Which principle(s), if applied, could have the greatest impact on your success?

The 10 ‘gap narrowing’ principles:

  • Form a Playbook for the execution of ambitious strategies in complex and fast changing environments.
  • Address the real world opportunities and challenges faced by leaders and their strategy and project teams.
  • Emerge from applied research and data analysis with1000s of executives responsible for strategic initiatives.


A well-managed portfolio of projects and initiatives is the bridge between strategy and execution.

The execution of strategy is the effective management of key projects and initiatives. Whether a strategy is succeeding or struggling depends on their performance.



Treat strategic initiatives like critical projects and critical projects like strategic initiatives

Managing strategic initiatives like critical projects typically means more rigour and discipline. But, Critical Projects require the levels of leadership and innovation typically associated with strategic initiatives.



Attend to the levels of confidence and ambition behind your initiative – they are a talisman for success.

Balancing confidence & ambition is not easy, especially for complex initiatives. Too much confidence can be as dangerous as too little. Also, there could be too much or too little ambition.


Don’t treat complex ambitious projects as if they were ‘business as usual’.

Bad things happen when complex ambitious projects are treated as routine. They demand speed, agility, collaboration & innovation – in short they require new ways of working



Don’t lose sight of changing business needs & priorities – it is the No. 1 unseen project risk. 

Caught up in the day to day busyness of a project it is easy to lose sight of changing business needs. Preventing this ‘Project Myopia’ requires strategic conversations & agile execution.

How many of these success principles does your organization adopt?



Complexity is often hidden, resulting in Misplaced Confidence

To tackle the twin dangers of hidden complexity and misplaced confidence leaders must engage complexity and embrace uncertainty.


Work the team, not just the project – it is 51% of success!

Today’s complex projects require tapping into the discretionary effort and untapped potential of those executives and teams who are charged with ‘making it happen’. 


Balance Project Rigor with Agile execution

Traditional project planning, project reviews and Gantt charts can be part of the problem, rather than the solution. Plans are as important as ever, but must be continuously reviewed and adjusted.  


Manage the First Mile, but keep an eye on the Last Mile

Many of the problems that arise during the life of a project or initiative can be traced back to the initial stages. Moreover, it is all too easy to arrive at the finish line only to find that it has moved and that stakeholders are waiting somewhere else.  


Think Project Safety – Take Steps to Prevent Nasty Surprises

Many project setbacks could have been prevented, if only somebody had spoken up and was heard. Balancing psychological safety and respectful challenge within project teams is key.


Which principle(s), if applied, could have the greatest impact on your success?

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