Overview

Developing a strategy is like installing an exercise machine in a fitness room. No matter how sophisticated the equipment, installation will not by itself tone your muscles and shape your body. You need to move from installation to a disciplined routine of execution and create a repeatable model for your fitness program. Likewise successful strategies depend on effective mobilization as much as great definition.

Too many strategies fail because they are poorly articulated or not implementable. Management teams do not understand them or are unable to translate them in concrete behaviors and daily actions on the front line, especially in complex organizations. Fear of change often gets in the way, consciously or unconsciously. Employees go through short and steep cycles of hype and excitement followed by skepticism and despair. After a few months, status quo creeps back and the bold new strategy is diluted or forgotten until a new leader pushes a fresh agenda.

Fortunately, there exists companies where employees at every level own the strategy, can explain it in simple and powerful words and describe how their job will uniquely impact the overall success.  These companies have managed to create what we call a “great repeatable model”: Desired behaviors take hold in the front line and spread in a sustainable way.  Not only do these companies manage to make change stick, they also continuously enhance their ability to learn and adapt through fast feedback loops, thus staying ahead of competition and addressing customers’ unmet needs better and faster than anybody else.

 

Drawing from Bain’s multi-year research and client work, this course explores the practical ways in which a corporation can move from crisp strategy definition to flawless execution and “create a great repeatable model”. It starts with the strategy formulation process itself which greatly influences the chances of success even before implementation has begun. It introduces and illustrates the practical management techniques at the heart of “repeatability”: front line routines, “non-negotiables”, fast feedback loops. It discusses the critical role of change management in strategy mobilization, by showing how companies can make practical use of recent findings in behavioral sciences.

 

After introducing the key concepts, the course gives students the opportunity to apply them in two important areas:

  • Organic growth strategies: how to create a customer centric culture and deliver the expected growth through sales and marketing excellence?
  • Digital strategies: what makes strategies different in the digital era and what are the unique challenges of digital transformation?

 

The learning from the course is broadly applicable across business functions and industries. It will be particularly relevant for students who are seeking a position in consulting, strategic planning, business development or program office (PMO) after graduation. More generally it will provide valuable tools and techniques for all students who will be asked to play a central role in a major strategic transformation at some stage in their career. 

Learning outcomes

The course will help students understand, select and apply the key management techniques which allow successful strategy mobilization: from great strategy definition to flawless implementation.  Once they have mastered the fundamentals of “great repeatable models”, students will practice and adapt these techniques in two important areas: organic growth strategies and digital strategies.

 

Key concepts in strategy mobilization:

Students will learn how to…

-          Structure and conduct a strategy formulation process to ensure that the resulting strategy is relevant, specific and implementable.

-           Sequence the strategy formulation work, select the activities and involve the right participants.

-          Validate that the selected strategy contains all the needed ingredients and is “implementation ready”.

-          Identify and rank the change management risks that stand in the way of successful implementation.

-          Formulate a set of actions that help overcome people resistance to change, foster expected behaviors at the front line, and raise ownership and engagement around the new strategy

-          Develop a “great repeatable model” to make change stick based on three pillars: key differentiators, frontline execution routines and fast feedback loops

Application to organic growth strategies:

Students will learn how to…

-          Identify the distinctive characteristics of sustainable, profitable growth leaders

-          Develop and structure a customer led growth program to capture the full growth potential of the existing core business

-          Focus and mobilize a salesforce on the most critical sales behaviors in order to turn “B” and “C” performers into “A” performers

-          Develop and Implement a Net Promoter System to drive continuous customer learning, enhance customer experience and make the organization truly customer centric.

 

Application to digital strategies:

Students will learn how to:

-          Identify and prioritize the digital disruptions which may affect a company’s value chain and business model

-          Assess a company’s digital transformation readiness along key dimensions

-          Develop a digital transformation program that acts simultaneously on the “what” (priority initiatives) and the “how” (people, IT, data, governance, open ecosystem)

-          Select and apply change management techniques which address the need for agility and cross functional collaboration in a digital transformation: hackathons, design and prototyping workshops, digital roadshows, digital factories, micro-battles…