Robert Simons

Charles M. Williams Professor of Business Administration

Bob Simons is the Charles M. Williams Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Over the last 30 years, Simons has taught accounting, management control, and strategy execution courses in both the Harvard MBA and Executive Education Programs. During 2017/2018 he is teaching “Mastering Strategy Execution,” a second-year MBA course, and "Driving Corporate Performance," a program for general managers and financial executives. 

In January 2017, Simons published a 15-module series on Strategy Execution available through Harvard Business School Publishing. While each module is designed to be used alone, the series forms a complete course that teaches—either through self-study or in the classroom—the latest techniques for using performance measurement and control systems to implement strategy. Modules 1 - 4 set out the foundations for strategy implementation. Modules 5 - 10 teach quantitative tools for performance measurement and control. Modules 11 - 15 illustrate the use of these techniques by managers to achieve profit goals and strategies.

Simons has also developed a new, online app called the Job Design Optimization Tool (JDOT) which is available free-of-charge from Harvard Business School Publishing. This tool can be used to design, or test the design, of any job in any organization.

Simons’ books include Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution (2010) and Levers of Organization Design: How Managers Use Accountability Systems for Greater Performance and Commitment (2005). In addition, he has written Levers of Control (1995) that describes how effective top managers balance innovation and control. This book won the Notable Contribution to Management Accounting Literature award.

In addition to his books, Simons' ongoing research into the relationship between business strategy, organization design, and management control systems has been published in journals such as Harvard Business Review, Capitalism and Society, Sloan Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Contemporary Accounting Research, and Journal of Accounting Literature. His articles in Harvard Business Review include “Choosing the Right Customer” (March 2014), “Stress-Test Your Strategy” (November 2010), “Managing Risk in the New World” (October 2009), “Designing High-Performance Jobs” (July 2005), “How Risky is Your Company?” (April 1999), “How High is Your Return on Management?” (January 1998), and “Control in an Age of Empowerment” (March/April 1995).

A Canadian CPA, Simons earned his Ph.D. from McGill University. Simons has served as a consultant to many companies on topics related to strategy execution, organization design, performance measurement, and strategic control. He has testified as an expert witness in U.S. Federal Court and before State Public Utility Commissions.

  1. Winner of the 2017 Case Centre Award in the Finance, Accounting, and Control category for "Henkel: Building a Winning Culture" with Natalie Kindred (HBS Case 112-060).

  2. Winner of the 2000 Notable Contribution to Management Accounting Literature Award from the Management Accounting Section of the American Accounting Association for Levers of Control: How Managers Use Innovative Control Systems to Drive Strategic Renewal (Harvard Business School Press, 1995).