Should Strategies be Implemented or Operationalised, and what’s the Difference?

While there are many approaches to executing strategy they are all based upon two fundamentally different philosophies. One is where an organisation is ‘pushed’ to its target future. The other is where it is ‘pulled’. Which approach an organisation applies can determine how successful it is in turning strategic intent into operational reality.

The ‘push’ approach is usually called implementation. It is where a strategy is realised through the execution of a predefined plan. While this approach is appropriate for strategies that have well-defined or predictable outcomes, its weakness is that it assumes organisations are deterministic and programmable. We know that they are not. Organisations can behave in unpredictable ways when attempts are made to change them.

The ‘pull’ approach is where a strategy is operationalised. It is where a context is created that enables employees to use their experience and expertise to pull an organisation to its target future. The challenge with this approach is that it needs to be embedded within the organisation in ways that lead to intellectual, emotional and physical engagement.

In this webinar David Trafford discusses the different approaches to executing strategy and makes the case that most strategies should be operationalised. Particularly strategies that are more transformational. He also presents a set of conditions that need to be in place in order to make operationalising strategy successful.

Also during the webinar participants were given the opportunity to share their views on different aspects of strategy execution through a series of live polls. Questions included “how confidently are you in explaining your organisation’s strategy?”; “have you ever been involved in executing a strategy that you didn’t understand?” and “what is the predominate approach to executing strategy in your organisation?”.  The results are interesting and indicate that much more still needs to be done to increase the chances of success.

This webinar is only available to members of the Association of MBAs.