Top 10 Strategic Execution Trends for 2015

Top 10 Strategic Execution Trends for 2015

IPS Learning recently released its annual list of Top 10 Strategic Execution Trends. In 2015, they expect to see more companies follow high-performing organization by applying a range of forward leaning approaches to strategic execution that better enables real-time adjustments to an ever changing marketplace.


Real-Time Strategic Execution

Planning in advance for projects will never stop being important; however, building in the flexibility to adjust strategic execution in real-time is taking on greater importance. As the velocity of business continues to increase, the likelihood that ideas and innovations relevant six months ago will become outdated during execution is increasing just as fast. In response, companies are growing their reliance on leading indicators, running more projects in parallel to ensure at least some succeed and building in flexibility to their strategies as well as their strategic execution to facilitate smarter adjustments in real-time.

Leading Indicators Taking Greater Prominence

Traditional planning emphasized looking at historical indicators, more contemporary approaches have challenged companies to also examine their current status to influence decision making. Today the trend goes further as the use of leading indicators moves beyond early adopting high-performing companies as organizations seek a more forward-looking perspective and better data to enable effective, real-time strategic execution adjustments.

Leveraging the Enterprise Perspective of the EPMO

Businesses are evolving their perspective on Enterprise Project Management Offices (EPMOs) from cumbersome and bloated to real-time tool. EPMOs have gained respect for their ability to provide an enterprise perspective as well as deliver detailed lines of sight into specific parts of the business. Perspectives and insights that are empowering companies to make better real-time decisions ­ reactively and proactively.

Cultural Adaption Enables Better Real-time Decisions

Cultural differences can affect productivity and add challenges to strategic execution. This is particularly true when multi-national organizations seek to work cooperatively across departments that also are geographically and therefore culturally, separated. A company¹s New York finance team speaks a very different language professionally, then their Bangalore engineering team. More companies are executing strategies to bridge these cultural divides, increasing collaboration and making it much easier for teams to adjust course in real-time.

Aligning IT to the Business

In the beginning IT got bolted on to the business where “automation“ had an impact. Over time IT grew to dictate how work got done and with what tools. Today, the role of IT is transforming to a more consultative role with a focus on enabling flexibility and accelerating the rate of strategic execution while increasing the business¹s ability to adjust to change.

Adaptive Execution of Strategy

Management styles have often followed what is currently fashionable, rather than using the appropriate one for each initiative based on its characteristics and requirements.  Agile software development is a current trend that is gathering steam and spreading to other functions in many organizations.  This approach to providing only high level goals and letting teams decide who, what, when, and how much to do responding to two trends:

First, decentralizing decisions is attractive to millennials who have become accustomed to creating, reviewing and editing communications across all kinds of media, rather than simply consuming information. Second, technologies, markets and economies are changing ever more rapidly, so firms need to develop short-cycle product releases to cope with the velocity of change.  However, in their rush to embrace agile development, some firms have lost the discipline required to specify and test the individual modules and integrated systems that comprise large, complex, high risk solutions in regulated markets.  The most sophisticated firms are now developing adaptive sets of processes, tools and leaders who can assess each project and program, and successfully execute it in a more or less agile vs. traditional management style.

Unbound: Unleashing the Organizational Surfer

Though it’s just beginning to be formalized, forward-thinking companies are unleashing the power of the experienced with the introduction of the “organizational surfer“.  Surfers move throughout the organization as needs dictate to bring their deep knowledge of the company, as well as their professional expertise, to troubleshoot problems as well as spur innovation and bring new perspectives. Surfers provide companies with additional resources to adjust strategic execution to external and internal influences.

Design Thinking

The days of design thinking as a specialty for product developers are numbered.  As more executives embrace design thinking to solve an ever broadening range of business problems, organizations are increasingly leveraging this powerful set of tools to accelerate strategy development. Additionally they are benefiting from the experiences and rich data set that the design thinking process provides, helping increase the speed of strategic execution, which in turn enables faster reactions to changes in the market.

The Shift Toward Value-Driven Structure

Traditionally, businesses have focused on solving problems. However, the shift toward value-driven organizations will greatly accelerate in 2015. More and more companies are evolving from a functional problem-solving structure to a value-driven structure designed to explore possibilities and look to the future. The forward thinking focus of value-driven structures helps companies be better prepared to react to external changes more quickly and effectively.

Righting the Balance between Strategy and Execution

While slower organizations still lean on strategy development to remain relevant, every day more companies are shifting their balance toward strategic execution. Though strategy making is still essential, successful organizations are increasing their emphasis on ensuring the strategies aren¹t over thought, are well-executed and are constructed to provide maximum flexibility.

“As business continues to accelerate, flexibility and speed of strategic execution becomes ever more important. Smart, high-performing organizations have already structured themselves to react more quickly to external and internal shifts. They view the future as a possibility, change as an opportunity and their strategy as the tool to get them there,“ said Tim Wasserman, CLO IPS Learning and Program Director, the Stanford Advanced Project Management (SAPM) program.


Constant disruption is the new normal. Organizations that are not agile enough to reinvent themselves on a continuous basis will not survive.

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