There’s no shortage of discussion in the business world about the importance and development of strategy, but there’s shockingly little advice available about actual implementation. Why is it, when it comes to strategy today, that action takes a back seat to theorizing?

Executive Summary

Keys to successful strategy executive include alignment—giving your employees a common destination that is integrated into annual and long-range plans—and periodic communication sessions, according to two lecturers on business leadership. In this article, they also counsel leaders to prepare to adapt to changing circumstances, which could otherwise divert even the best-designed plans off course.

There’s no single answer, although one reason may be that many writings on strategy come from academia rather than the business world. But whatever the case, it’s certainly not because implementation isn’t important. Even with the most well-thought-out strategic plans, how well you execute that strategy is what counts. That’s why professional development programs should focus on the practical aspects of putting strategy to work.

What if instead of talking about business strategy, we were talking about bicycles? Envision companies annually spending hundreds of billions of dollars for training to build better bicycles. At the same time, picture countless books being released each year, not only on bicycle building in general, but also on how to perfect individual parts, from the handlebars to the spokes. Meanwhile, with so much attention devoted solely to building bicycles, imagine most people never even learning how to ride one, only to wonder why they fall over after they hop on.

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