Book | 2010

Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution

by Robert L. Simons

Abstract

To stay ahead of the pack, you must translate your organization's competitive strategy into day-to-day actions that will enable your company to win in the marketplace. This means channeling resources into the right efforts, striking a balance between innovation and control, and getting everyone to pull in the same direction. How do you accomplish all this? Continually ask the right questions, advises Harvard Business School professor Robert Simons. By posing these provocative questions, you identify critical gaps in your strategy execution processes, focus on the most important choices you must make, and understand what's at stake in each one. In this concise guide, Simons presents the seven key questions you and your team must regularly explore together: (1) Who is your primary customer? Have you organized your company to deliver maximum value to that customer? (2) How do your core values prioritize shareholders, employees, and customers? Is everyone in your company committed to those values? (3) What critical performance variables are you tracking? How are you creating accountability for performance on those variables? (4) What strategic boundaries have you set? Does everyone know what actions are off-limits? (5) How are you generating creative tension? Is that tension catalyzing innovation across units? (6) How committed should your employees be to helping each other? Are they sharing responsibility for your company's success? (7) What strategic uncertainties keep you awake at night? How are you riveting everyone's attention on those uncertainties? These questions force you to reexamine the unspoken assumptions underlying your strategy and analyze how it's implemented through your business processes and structures. Drawing on decades of research into performance management systems and organization design, Seven Strategy Questions is a no-nonsense, must-read resource for all leaders in your organization.

Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Innovation and Management; Resource Allocation; Business Processes; Organizational Culture; Competitive Strategy;

Citation:

Simons, Robert L. Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution. Harvard Business Review Press, 2010.