Why Strategy Execution Unravels—and What to Do About It

75% of organizations struggle to implement strategy. Improve your odds of success with this 7-minute video slide deck.

Donald Sull

When it comes to innovation, the single most common piece of advice may be to “think outside the box.” Constraints, according to this view, are the enemy of creativity because they sap intrinsic motivation and limit possibilities.

Sophisticated innovators, however, have long recognized that constraints spur and guide innovation. Attempting to innovate without boundaries overwhelms people with options and ignores established practices, such as agile programming, … [ Read more ]

Where Disruptive Innovation Came From

After a long and successful run, the theory of disruptive innovation has come under attack of late. Disruptive innovation is a parsimonious theory that explains many business failures. But not all. And that is the critical insight getting lost in the cross-fire between the theory’s disciples and its critics.

Is It Better to Be Strategic or Opportunistic?

Sarah Cliffe spoke with contributor Don Sull, who teaches strategy at MIT and the London Business School, about the tension between scholars who put sustainable competitive advantage at the center of strategy and those who argue that some industries are changing too quickly to allow for sustained performance. Here’s the edited conversation.

10 Clues to Opportunity

Managers and entrepreneurs walk past lucrative opportunities all the time, and later kick themselves when someone else exploits the strategy they overlooked. Why does this happen? It’s often because of the natural human tendency known to psychologists as confirmation bias: People tend to notice data that confirms their existing attitudes and beliefs, and ignore or discredit information that challenges them.

Although it is difficult to overcome … [ Read more ]

Competing Through Organizational Agility

Three distinct types of agility—strategic, portfolio, and operational—help companies compete. Each of them has its own sources and dangers.

Simple Rules: Common Mistakes with Simple Rules

In the third of three podcasts on strategy as simple rules Donald Sull, Associate Professor of Management Practice, discusses the five common pitfalls that are likely to derail strategy as simple rules in organisations.

Simple Rules: Strategy as Simple Rules

In the second of three podcasts on strategy as simple rules Donald Sull, Associate Professor of Management Practice in Strategic and International Management, explains what simple rules are and how managers can make them work in their organizations.

Simple Rules: Three Logics of Value Creation

In the first of three podcasts on strategy as simple rules Donald Sull, Associate Professor of Management Practice in Strategic and International Management, elaborates on the three core logics of value creation.

Closing the Gap Between Strategy and Execution: The Strategy Loop in Action

The third in his series on strategy and its discontents, Don Sull talks about how to put the notion of a strategy loop into practice in an organization.

This podcast builds upon the first and second podcasts which rejected the linear view of strategy and then suggested an alternative view of strategy as a loop or an iterative process.

Sull explains that there are many things that … [ Read more ]

Donald Sull

Companies that execute on their strategies quickly and effectively tend to construct solid organizational hardware: information systems, corporate priorities, hydraulics, incentives, and so forth. But they also program in software—that is, the right culture, people, and leadership for execution. Indeed, the most agile organizations I have studied share a core set of values: achievement that recognizes and rewards employees for setting and achieving ambitious goals; … [ Read more ]

Donald Sull

Execution requires four distinct types of conversations: making sense of volatile situations; deciding what to do, not do, or stop doing; soliciting and monitoring commitments to deliver; and making corrections midcourse.

Closing the gap between strategy and execution: The strategy loop in action

In the third of a three part podcast series Donald Sull, Associate Professor of Management Practice in Strategic and International Management at London Business School, talks about how to put the notion of a strategy loop into practice in an organisation.

Closing the Gap Between Strategy and Execution

In the first of a three part podcast series Donald Sull, Associate Professor of Management Practice in Strategic and International Management at London Business School, discusses closing the gap between strategy and execution, focusing on strategy and its discontents.

Don Sull

There are three different ways frms are agile. They can be agile within their operations. That’s kind of the Toyota story or the Southwest Air story; a clearly defned industry. You’re constantly spotting and seizing opportunities quicker than your rivals.

The second way is through portfolio agility. You can pull resources from slower declining businesses and put them against faster growing or more promising opportunities.

A third … [ Read more ]

Simple Rules and Management Teams

In the final in his three part podcast series with Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Donald Sull, Associate Professor of Management Practice in Strategic and International Management, speaks with the Stanford University Professor about what makes good management teams.

Eisenhardt begins this podcast by stating that in her opinion the most useful metaphor about teams for managers is a basketball team because the teams are fast moving, fluid … [ Read more ]

Emirates Airline

Emirates Airline has bucked industry slumps with a 25 per cent annual growth rate since it was founded in 1985. What lies behind its success and what challenges does it face as it prepares to step up its expansion?

In China: The Importance of Managing Relationships Dynamically

The appliance maker Guangdong Galanz has excelled at managing relationships in a turbulent environment, and its case study illustrates the costs and benefits of relationships, how these pros and cons shift over time, and, most important, how executives can manage them effectively in a constantly shifting context.