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  • Lou Killeffer

Strategy @ Work

Late last year I was invited to attend the 5th annual Chief Strategy Officer Summit (CSONY) in Manhattan. Once again, the Summit brought together over a hundred leaders, innovators, and strategists from global enterprises to exchange ideas on the tools that drive and sustain growth. Compelling topics included responding to customer led disruption, business analytics and competitive intelligence, and aligning strategy to emerging trends.

Among the many gifted speakers and relevant case studies presented, my two favorites were:

Portfolio Transformation: An Evolving Strategy given by Greg Hocking, Vice President, Strategy & Portfolio Management at PepsiCo, the global leader of twenty-two brands generating more than $1BN each in annual sales. Greg outlined how this paragon of really big food and beverage was responding to the dramatic changes and challenges in the consumer trifecta of shifting trends in food consumption, brand trust, and retail shopping.

Building a Successful Strategic Team – It’s More Than Strategy presented by Suzy Cunningham, Manager, Strategy Integration at NASA. Suzy related her

considerable experience while reminding us all of the critical importance of the “human element” in the success of any strategy. Most particularly in terms of the traditional hallmarks of leadership, team building, and team work, which are at an ever-increasing premium in virtually every organization today.

However, my single biggest and most literal take away came courtesy of CSONY sponsor, the Brightline Initiative, in the form of their wonderful new book, published last November, Strategy @ Work: From Design to Delivery, which you can download here.

The Brightline™ Initiative is an active coalition dedicated to helping bridge the clearly expensive and often unproductive gap between strategy design and delivery. As such, Brightline promotes best practices to improve an organization’s ability to deliver on its strategic intent.

Brightline knows full well the inconvenient truth of business success: that simply getting things done is really hard work. That yes, indeed, creating an effective business strategy is daunting and demanding but turning your strategy into a reality is equally difficult, if not more, so.

As Peter Bregman has argued in the Harvard Business Review, “The reason strategy execution is often glossed over by even the most astute strategy consultants is because it’s not a strategic challenge. It’s a human behavior one. To deliver stellar results, people need to be hyper-aligned and laser focused...But even in well-run, stable organizations, people are misaligned, too broadly focused, and working at cross-purposes.” (Emphasis added.)

In helping executives make sense of these challenges Brightline joined with their partners at Thinkers50 to create Strategy@Work, showcasing some of the best thinking in the field. Note, Thinkers50 is no less than the “definitive global ranking of management thinkers” what the Financial Times calls “the Oscars of management thinking”. Published every two years since 2001, the ranking has been led by such luminaries as Peter Drucker, Michael Porter, CK Prahalad and Clay Christensen.

This is a book well worth reading.

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