Cracking the code of strategy execution

Kasper Lindøe Pedersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


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.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2008
Number of pages114