Your Strategy.

Manchester Business School – MBA Guest Lectures

Skarbek delivered a lecture on Strategy Execution at Manchester Business School’s Global MBA programme on 17th October. Paul Heugh and Chip Chapman explored lessons drawn from history, business, the military and current organisational research.


These are the surprising facts:

90% of companies are failing to realise their strategic ambitions[1];

In 2012 only 41% of companies surveyed by the EIU said they provided enough skilled people to implement high priority strategic initiatives.

In their lecture this year Paul Heugh and Chip Chapman contrasted the challenges in strategy execution faced by the military and multinational companies as well sharing insights from successes and failures.

Chip commenced with looking at the challenge of aligning ‘ends, ways and means’; illustrating a unit, business, or indeed football team that had failed to deliver its ‘ends’ could not be expected to deliver a different outcome if it persisted with the same ways or means. The military are highly adept at generating plans across geography and functions whilst also understanding that no plan survives contact with the enemy. In a congested, connected, complex environment it is vital to maintain situational awareness and process round the OODA loop faster than the enemy. Chip shared personal anecdotes and axioms on strategy execution drawing upon his experience on the battlefield and in large formation HQ’s (Chip fought with 2 Para in the Falklands war).

For aspirant business leaders Paul delivered a meta-analysis of why strategy execution is so challenging for organisations and the largely under-reported consequences i.e. why so much of the opportunity to deliver and grow is lost.

Both Chip and Paul provided practical insights into methods for translating strategy into action in a highly aligned way to win. A lively discussion ensued covering leadership, trust, communications and metrics. It was clear that the challenge for these future business leaders would be implementation of a strategy in a different world; one in which the strategy may have to adapt rapidly to different circumstances. The best advice was to invest heavily in personal competency in implementation.

Skarbek Associates deliver world-class capability building programmes enabling organisations to move fast and deliver with certainty.


[1] Zook, Chris & Allen, James 2001 “Profit from the core-Growth strategy in an era of turbulence” Harvard Business School Proess 2001