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Strategy Implementation for Leaders

“Today’s leader needs both the ability to craft a winning strategy and the skill to implement it.”

Robin Speculand

Leaders, however, have been trained to plan not to implement strategy; this is reflected in the high rate of failure. Most implementations of strategy fail, according to Bridges’s research since 2000.



Introduction to “Strategy Implementation for Leaders”

Since 2002, this seminar has come alive for more than 14,000 leaders, worldwide.

Starting where most seminars end, “Strategy Implementation for Leaders” explains what to do after you’ve crafted your organization’s strategy.

Companies worldwide recognize that their current leaders who attended university to earn a business degree were taught strategy but not strategy implementation. Business schools, for example, employ a strategy professor but rarely an implementation professor. Students may have attended a module on operations management or change management, but this is different than strategy implementation. As a result, a critical gap exists today between strategy and its implementation. When leaders are asked to implement a strategy, they do not have the full skill set. This seminar addresses this gap.


You can have the greatest strategy in the world, but if you can’t implement it, then it has no more value than the paper it is written on.

To create a strategy, the best minds in the organization come together. They devote their time, energy and effort identifying ways to outplay the competition, win market share and increase profits and shareholder value—all tough to tackle. Yet despite this focus, most strategies have traditionally failed to deliver.

Taking a new strategy into the whole organization and executing it sets up a tougher challenge than most leaders anticipate. Too many leaders can more easily recall an implementation that failed than one that succeeded.

It is time to correct this by putting the spotlight on implementation.

After launching their new strategy, leaders return to their offices and frequently repeat the same mistakes from previous implementation efforts. Sadly, they get the same poor results. To change that, they can start to:

  • Inspire and inform their people about imminent changes;
  • Explain what needs to transform and why;
  • Review how the team is working and ensure the current rewards and recognition program supports the new strategy;
  • Assess the current measures being used and report back to their peers;
  • Empower their people to change processes;
  • Ensure people have the right resources and skills to implement the new strategy;
  • Constantly communicate about the implementation
  • Personally be engaged in the implementation.
  • Adopt a framework and tools

This multiple number of activities creates a maze that many leaders become lost in.

To break the pattern of so many past failures, leaders need to be learn how to implement strategy, which is a specific skill set. When that skill set is missing, leaders habitually underestimate the implementation challenge they face.

More than that, when leaders don’t pay attention to the implementation, neither do their staff members. Failure results. Gaining their understanding and commitment to the strategy is also essential, yet it’s only the first part. You must also ensure their engagement and follow-through on the required actions.


Customers notice the implementation, not the strategy.

The reasons implementation fails are numerous.

Some people ask, “Which is more important—strategy or implementation?” This is a moot question; both are equally important.

The only way, however, to know if you have the right strategy is to implement it. It’s assumed to be a good strategy, as no leadership team walks into a conference room and declares, ‘‘Let’s create a bad strategy!’’ So at the launch, every member of that team thinks the strategy is great. But only when a successful implementation follows can this team be proven right.

Leaders must oversee an implementation so it will succeed.

It is critical for organizations to bridge this critical strategy implementation gap. Successful implementations provide a competitive advantage and tremendous payoff.

Strategy is about making the right choices; implementation is about taking the right actions. Therefore, successful implementation depends on people taking the right actions.

It follows then that leaders need to ensure their employees are taking the right actions. But this doesn’t happen. Because staff members are always busy, the key question becomes ‘‘are the actions staff members taking today driving the implementation forward?”


Seminar Outline

“Strategy Implementation for Leaders” is a highly interactive, engaging and enriching one-day seminar. Based on the international bestselling book Beyond Strategy–the Leader’s Role in Successful Implementation, published by John Wiley, it addresses the knowledge gap for leaders and goes deeply into the tough challenges of implementing strategy.

Strategy Implementation for Leaders is the longest-running seminar in the world on the subject and is taught across five continents.

Packed with best practices and the latest thinking in the field, it gives you a framework to guide your implementation journey. It’s called the Implementation Compass™.

This framework, adopted by numerous organizations and governments, ensures you address all the eight areas required to successfully implement strategy. It also enables the organization to assess its implementation capabilities and enables leaders to ensure the right actions are being taken.

Within one stirring day, the seminar discusses:

Packed with best practices and the latest thinking in the field, it gives you a framework to guide your implementation journey. It’s called the Implementation Compass™.
This framework, adopted by numerous organizations and governments, ensures you address all the eight areas required to successfully implement strategy. It also enables the organization to assess its implementation capabilities and enables leaders to ensure the right actions are being taken.

Within one stirring day, the seminar discusses:



Why strategy implementation is one of today’s hottest leadership topics
Over the last 20 years, strategy implementation has established itself as part of a leader’s armory of knowledge and skills. It balances your knowledge of strategic planning with your excellence in execution.

You’ll understand the mistakes most leaders make and what to do differently.

What it takes to execute using the Implementation Compass™ framework
Most leaders struggle with strategy implementation today because of a lack of structure and framework. The Implementation Compass guides you through the eight areas of excellence in execution required for success.

Specifically, the framework provides you with the structure to make your strategy come alive, to assess the organizations readiness to implement and identify the key areas to tackle.

The Implementation Compass was developed by Bridges Business Consultancy Int (the company I work for) after 15 years of research and testing with leaders around the world.

Understanding that leaders don’t implement strategy, front-line workers do
Leaders are responsible for crafting the strategy. Yes, they may involve frontline staff members in this, but they are ultimately responsible for crafting the strategy. However, they don’t implement strategy; that happens at the frontline. People in frontline positions are the ones who must adopt the new actions to deliver the new strategy.

Leaders understand how and why to oversee the implementation.

Learning how to identify and take the right actions
If strategy is about making the right choices, then implementation is about taking the right actions. Staff members are always busy, but the question is, “Are they taking the right actions that will implement the strategy?” Taking the right action is what makes the difference between success and failure.

Taking the right actions moves an organization from strategy creation to strategy implementation. You’ll learn ways to ensure your people do that.

Assessing your organization’s implementation capabilities
Before you buy a company, you conduct due diligence. Before you design a new product, you conduct a market assessment. Before you launch your company’s future, you conduct your organization’s readiness to implement assessment.

The assessment is based on the eight critical elements of the Compass. By asking key questions, you will be able to extract a radar picture of your organizations readiness to implement.

This then prioritizes where your organization needs to focus and prioritizes actions.



Realizing that most people don’t resist implementation
Many implementations are built on the false assumption that most people resist change. Most people support or simply go along with a new strategy.

There are four different ways people respond to strategy implementation—when it is communicated properly. Leaders need to know how their people are responding and how to lead each group.

Understanding leaders must implement more frequently than ever before
With business moving faster and faster, leaders are being called on to implement new strategies more frequently. That makes it even more critical they have the skills to execute them.

Many strategies last only three to five years, which means leaders need to plan and implement more than they’ve ever had to before.

Appreciating the relationship between business model disruption and implementation

A company is either disrupting or being disrupted. This transformation requires organization to be agile and open to change otherwise they are going to be left behind.

Leaders who have instilled the skills of implementation are able to guide their organization more smoothly through the disruption.

Leaders are typically left on their own to struggle with implementation.
Not any longer. This seminar explains why implementation is critical for leaders and how being excellent in execution is a business differentiator. It is also supported by the online “Implementation Hub—a portal for your implementation success,” which is packed with more than 480 resources, including tools, tips, videos, case studies, best practices and templates.


Strategy is the future of your organization. Implementation is your bridge.


Learning Outcomes

  • Why implementation is a business differentiator
  • A framework for implementing your strategy
  • Best practices from leading organizations
  • Assessment of your organization’s implementation capabilities
  • Understanding the different ways people respond to implementation and how to lead them
  • The impact of shorter strategy cycles and business model disruption


Course Leader

A leader today needs both the ability to formulate strategy and the skills to execute it. The global drive toward imbuing implementation as an organizational competency stems from the right strategy and the ability to implement it being a worldwide business differentiator with tremendous payoff.

Robin Speculand is a global pioneer and expert in strategy implementation. He is the founder and CEO of Bridges Business Consultancy Int, creator of the Implementation Hub, and author of three books on implementation (two are international bestsellers) including his new fourth book, Excellence in Execution–HOW to Implement Strategy.

Robin is driven to transform the strategy implementation approach globally by inspiring leaders to adopt a different approach. His work begins when his clients are crafting their strategy and are starting to think about implementing it. He guides them through the implementation journey and provides them with the knowledge, tools and templates to succeed where so many fail. These include Bridges’ Implementation Compass™—a proprietary framework for successful implementation—as well as access to the Implementation Hub—the first portal in the world dedicated to strategy implementation with its 500+ resources—and IMPACT, a toolkit with a structured approach for implementing actions in 90 days.

In 2000, Robin left his position as Citigroup Regional Vice President, Corporate Bank, Asia Pacific to start Bridges, a specialist in strategy implementation. Since assisting its first client, Singapore Airlines, Bridges has worked with governments, multinational corporations and local organizations across five continents to achieve Excellence in Execution.

He is one of the most prolific writers and thinkers on implementing strategy. An international bestselling author, his books include Bricks to Bridges – Make Your Strategy Come Alive, which set the benchmark for new thinking in his field and Beyond Strategy – The Leader’s Role in Successful Implementation, John Wiley & Sons. His pioneering work has been featured in strategy journals, international print and electronic media including the BBC U.K. & Global, CNBC, Financial Times, Sunday Telegraph and the Singapore Straits Times. He is a sought-after speaker at strategy and international business forums.

Robin is an educator for Duke CE, an award winning case writer and adjunct faculty at the Office of Executive and Professional Education in Singapore Management University. Outside of work, he’s a die-hard ironman athlete.