August 2014 | 

Bridging the Strategy/Execution Divide: A Tactical Approach

strategy and execution

It seems like an impossible demand: today’s senior executives are tasked with creating long-term strategic goals and plans, while simultaneously driving the daily activities of strategic execution. To help strengthen these two very different capabilities, Wharton has partnered with global business school IESE to develop Business Strategy & Operational Execution: Bridging the Divide. The new program goes beyond textbooks and theories to deliver real-life, real-time lessons from companies who do both well, recognizing that it is best-practices operational tactics, learned on-site, that can make the biggest impact on the organization once participants are back at work.

Led by top faculty from each institution, Business Strategy & Operational Execution takes place over two non-consecutive weeks on both U.S. coasts. For senior leaders who often can’t find the time to pursue educational opportunities, the two-month break between sessions helps maximize learning by providing time to experience, use, and reflect on their new business knowledge.

Week One: New York

The first week of the program takes place at IESE’s New York campus. With sessions that include leading cross-cultural teams, understanding global financial markets to prepare your company for growth, rethinking your innovation processes, and benefiting from trends in the global marketplace, participants will deepen their knowledge and learn tools and frameworks to better position their firms to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape.

IESE New York

The program also includes a unique Retail Field Exercise based on the work of Paco Underhill, internationally best-selling author of Why We Buy and CEO of the consumer behavior research firm Envirosell. In his three decades of behavioral research, Underhill has provided ground-breaking insights for leaders in many industries, and developed a unique methodology for observing and learning from consumer and corporate behavior.

After an introductory session led by Underhill, he and IESE marketing professor José Luiz Nueno will guide participants as they conduct field research on the consumer experience at a number of retail stores, both onsite and online. “The exercise emphasizes the importance of structured observation.” says Nueno. “This is a critical skill no matter what industry you are in. In the end, every business deals with consumers, either directly or through intermediaries. We provide an opportunity to observe and learn how others are connecting with their customers. In fact, it can be easier to gain fresh perspectives when you are not looking at your own market.”

Week Two: San Francisco

Wharton’s new San Francisco campus is the site of the program’s second week, which focuses on strategic insights in a changing business environment. Wharton and IESE’s expert faculty will provide an in-depth view of current technology and how to achieve competitive advantage in a digital age, as well as techniques for building a successful global brand. A site visit to a best-of-breed technology company in Silicon Valley will offer the latest best practices, and participants will learn concrete strategies for improving key leadership capabilities. Leadership and theory will then come together in a realistic business simulation that works through the key drivers affecting a company’s business operations.

Business Strategy & Operational Execution was designed to meet the needs of senior executives in large, multinational companies based primarily in the U.S. These leaders have often recently assumed broader responsibilities (which may include strategy, business development, innovation, R&D, product development, sales and marketing, mergers and acquisitions, and/or finance) and need to understand how to link strategy and execution, and to lead across cultural boundaries. Professor Pedro Videla, an academic director of the program from the IESE Business School, notes that participants will “return to the office with an evolved strategic and operational mindset, so they can achieve business goals in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”