Championship Tennis and Strategy Execution

wimbledon1

Many of us here in the UK are infected with Wimbledon fever!  That magical time of year when the reigning champions face not only each other, but the rising stars of the future. Dynasties can fall and new kings and queens of Centre Court crowned. But also the old Masters can use their experience and confidence to win again.

McenroeSo with Wimbledon very much on my mind, I am reminded of many decades ago when the wooden Dunlop Maxply racket was the only racket to have.  A famous squash player said in an advertisement:  “Without my Dunlop Maxply, I might as well use a fly swat”.

In tennis as well, the Maxply ruled. The wooden Dunlop Maxply accompanied Bjorn Borg (5 time winner: 1976-1980) and John McEnroe (3 time winner)  to Finals Day at Wimbledon many times.

But times have changed. Today’s graphite and composite rackets have taken racket sports to unprecedented levels. Like never before, pinpoint control, flaming power and gentle finesse are possible with these new technology fed-vapor-07rackets. And the players are different as well.  They are much fitter, follow rigorous scientific training regimes and adhere to nutrition plans formulated by sports physicians. Their shoes and clothes have been developed by leading scientists and engineers.

Strategic Planning and Strategy Execution

In the world of business, things have also changed, especially the pace of technology and the rapid increase in global competition, all demanding the very best from the company and the leadership team.  And strategic planning, once just an exercise of gathering last year’s numbers and adding 10%, is now highly rigorous with SWOT analysisPorter’s Five-forces, scenario planning, emerging market analytics, pricing theories, Emergent and Disruptive strategies, and numerous other analytical and systematic approaches to developing the best strategy.

The important thing is not having a strategy, it’s getting it implemented!  ~Jack Welch

But in terms of strategy execution, most organisations are still “playing with the wooden Dunlop Maxply”.  The statistics are alarming; most strategies fail, not because of poor strategy, but because of poor execution.  When a CEO is fired, 70% of the time it is for failing to deliver on the strategic objectives they promised the board and the market.  And most execution failures are the result of executives and managers spending more time focusing on their functional objectives than the overall strategic objectives.  What is commonly called “heavy silo focus”.

FASTBREAK diagramFor the past several years we have been introducing our clients to a new, integrated “Fastbreak Strategy Execution Process”, along with a management platform that breaks down the silo-based culture by organising and focusing the entire company on the successful delivery of strategic objectives. This robust process, detailed in the book, FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution, helps build a culture of execution and accountability and represents the best chance  organisations have of executing at pace against their strategy.

Those of us of a certain age probably have a soft spot for the original Dunlop Maxply. Maybe one day we’ll have a sentimental attachment to the old silo-based ways of business planning and execution. But in today’s changing and competitive global marketplace, unless you have a robust strategy execution process in place and an aligned leadership team, you really might as well play with a fly swatter!

 

John R. ChildressN2Growth: President, Europe and Chair, Culture Transformation Practice

Author of LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture, and FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution, available from Amazon in paperback and eBook formats.

See the review of LEVERAGE in The Economist (January 9, 2014).

John also writes thriller novels:  novels.johnrchildress.com

 

 

About johnrchildress

John Childress is currently Visiting Professor in Strategy and Culture at IE Business School in Madrid and a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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