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Learning to Execute Strategy: A Sneak Peek at the Results of the PM Solutions Research Strategy Execution Process Benchmark Study.

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin

Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin is editor-in-chief for PM Solutions Research, and the author, co-author and editor of over twenty books on project management, including the 2007 PMI Literature Award winner, The AMA Handbook of Project Management, Second Edition.

We are slicing and dicing the data from our recently-conducted study on the processes that contribute to strategy execution, and the news for training professionals is … there’s a lot to learn.

A key finding is that, for most organizations, few employees feel engaged in and motivated by the strategy execution process. It’s better in organizations with a strategic PMO, and in organizations with PPM processes in place. Not surprisingly, high-performing organizations score the best on employee engagement with strategy execution.

When you look at the data on the types of training that companies offer, related to strategy execution, you get a clue why their people aren’t engaged. It’s not like the average person is born knowing how to execute strategy, after all. Somewhere along the way, a roadmap is required.

Only 15% of organizations offer training in strategy execution management, which might be understandable, given that it is a somewhat lofty topic for the majority of employees who actually work in the trenches executing strategy. But there are other, related training topics that could improve execution, like leadership, project portfolio management basics, and organizational change management, and most organizations are not offering these types of training, either.

Does it matter? Just think about this one data point: 40% of organizations in the “high-performing” category in the study (meaning that they scored in the top quartile on an array of organizational performance measures) offer training related to strategy execution.

The bottom quartile? Only 11% offer such training.

Going back to the original inspiration for this research study, the Harvard Business Review has noted that few planned strategies ever see the light of day. And recent PMI research underscores this, finding that, even among projects that meet budget and schedule goals, only 53% deliver on the business outcomes they were created to address. That’s a lot of wheel-spinning and waste. If only there were a way to teach people how to execute strategy …

Oh, right.

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