August 2016 | Strategy
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: Lawrence Hrebiniak, PhD, Emeritus Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and the author of Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change.
For effective strategy execution, be explicit about who’s responsible for all execution decisions and actions.
Even the most well-thought-out strategy can fail without clear responsibility and accountability for execution decisions and actions. Organizational cultures that say “everyone is accountable” often have ambiguous roles and responsibilities — and when things go wrong, it’s too easy to blame it on someone else. You can avoid that trap by using an explicit, structured process for role negotiation and responsibility plotting before strategy execution begins (or use it to get a project that’s floundering back on track). The five-step process in the Action Steps below will help you and your team create a responsibility matrix to make sure everyone agrees on who is responsible for what by when.
In a mid-sized Texas company, the goal was “new product development.” After many years as a market leader, they had no new products and were losing market share and competitive advantage. They started the process, and entered into heated discussions in Step 4, including criticism of the CEO (who gave himself mostly “A”s) for micromanagement. The conflict was managed successfully, and a final matrix was agreed on. With roles and responsibilities clear, new product development increased significantly. The company even published a “Guide to New Product Development” that explained who was responsible at every step of the process, ensuring that future execution efforts would be handled properly.
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education. It is jointly sponsored by Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, Wharton Professor of Management Michael Useem, Director. Nano Tools Academic Director is Professor John Paul MacDuffie, Professor of Management at the Wharton School and Director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) at Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management.
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