Insight Blog

Nightmare on Strategy Street

by Eileen Koch

November 15, 2018 | Change Management, Project, Program, Portfolio Management

Raise your hand if you’ve seen this “movie” before.  A new corporate strategy is unveiled.  Promises of innovation, transformation, and attractive benefits realization echo through the hallways of the corporate headquarters.  The investment is significant.  The excitement is high.  The CEO and senior leaders have their talking points.  The board nervously provides their approval.  There are balloons and buttons with the strategy’s new tagline. Everything is…. perfect.  That is until the team asked to execute the strategy is mobilized and slowly, everything starts to fall apart.

So why is executing a strategy so darn hard?  Why does panic and questionable decision-making enter the scene, turning this “movie” into a horror flick?  In our experience, Strategic Execution has the tendency to go astray without the following components:


A Clearly Defined Roadmap: A roadmap is one way to capture the high-level overview of the project’s goals and deliverables presented over time. Unlike the project plan where details are fleshed out, the roadmap should be simple and free of minutiae. It’s a timeline indicating the schedule, critical milestones, and risks. The roadmap gives everyone a common purpose and more importantly, focus on the end game. Without a roadmap, stakeholders lose their reason to believe and quickly go from being advocates to being critics.


Organizational Empathy: Change management is the conscience of any large initiative. Unfortunately, the work activities associated with understanding and mitigating employee resistance to the changes represented in your strategy often end up on the cutting room floor. A sound change management strategy is adapted to the risk profile of each initiative and is just as critical to that initiative as the business case or the project plan.


Discipline and Patience: Implementing a new strategy takes time. Results are often 12-24 months from the announcement (remember the balloons). Teams need discipline to fight the inevitable transformation fatigue that rears its ugly head midway through the project. Demonstrating quick wins and rewarding changed behavior along the way can go a long way to decrease anxiety and improve likelihood for success.

During every LSA engagement, regardless of size or complexity, we approach strategic execution with an intensity to translate strategy into reality.  We focus on five fundamental actions:


Align: Review the original business case to ensure it includes current and documented assumptions. In parallel, initiate a risk and readiness assessment to identify all risks, build mitigation plans, and plot a baseline for stakeholder engagement.


Mobilize: Develop a detailed workplan that is accurately resource loaded as well as a communication strategy that supports all stakeholders (internal and external). Don’t forget external customers and all vendor partners.


Deliver: Define the scope … what’s in and what’s out. Create a process to add or remove and update the business case accordingly. Updating the business case is often overlooked; as a result, executives are left wondering why the program isn’t delivering on the original business case.


Sustain: Develop a steady state vision and a continuous improvement framework – what does success look like? Relentlessly, measure adoption and manage to the desired future state behaviors.


Measure: Don’t wait until the end to measure results. Measure and adjust from the start to at least 12 months post execution.

Indeed, we’ve seen this “movie” before. We know the cast of characters. We are prepared for the plot twists. Economic value only comes when an initiative is executed strategically and flawlessly. For more information on how Lake Shore Associates can help you execute your new strategy, contact us at