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Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change Hardcover – 5 Jan 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 1 edition (5 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 013146745X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131467453
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 851,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From Kirkus Reports, February 10, 2005 Volume 2, Issue 1

Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change
Lawrence G. Hrebiniak
Publisher: Wharton School Publishing
Pub Date: January 2005

In what could be an excellent companion piece to either branding book mentioned this month, Wharton professor Hrebiniak deconstructs the grand theories and explores what it takes to work in the real world. He starts by discussing what doesn’t work–when managers dream up ambitious scenarios but leave the execution to their underlings, things are bound to go wrong. In other words: formula is easy; execution is hard. Ownership, according to Hrebiniak, is the key to success, and he moves clearly through the many steps of taking strategy from the theoretical to the concrete. There are sections devoted to all the common pitfalls: information sharing, providing appropriate incentives, and managing culture change. Case studies of big corporations and the challenges they met or flubbed provide a real-world look at the stakes involved. The author also provides an examination of power and influence as they relate to execution, and a section that demonstrates how his theories could be applied to recent M&As. In all, a mercifully cut-and-dry, clear-eyed view of one way in which businesses can succeed or fail.

From the Back Cover

Without effective execution, no business strategy can succeed. Unfortunately, most managers know far more about developing strategy than about executing it -- and overcoming the difficult political and organizational obstacles that stand in their way. In this book, leading consultant and Wharton professor Lawrence Hrebiniak offers the first comprehensive, disciplined process model for making strategy work in the real world. Drawing on his unsurpassed experience, Hrebiniak shows why execution is even more important than many senior executives realize, and sheds powerful new light on why businesses fail to deliver on even their most promising strategies. Next, he offers a systematic roadmap for execution that encompasses every key success factor: organizational structure, coordination, information sharing, incentives, controls, change management, culture, and the role of power and influence in your business. Making Strategy Work concludes with a start-to-finish case study showing how to use Hrebeniak's ideas to address one of today's most difficult business execution challenges: ensuring the success of a merger or acquisition.

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Two decades ago, I was working with the Organizational Effectiveness Group in AT&T's new Consumer Products division, a business created after the court-mandated breakup and reorganization of the company in 1984. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER on 10 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
The most important business books are written in response to an especially important question and this book is no exception: “How to make strategy work?” Hrebiniak focuses his attention on the processes, decisions, and actions which are needed to execute an appropriate strategy effectively. It soon becomes obvious that Hrebiniak is a pragmatist. His observations and recommendations are based on an abundance of real-world data. Both he and his content are results-oriented. He is determined to help his reader to see the Big Picture but also to be ever-alert for significant details. A realist, Hrebiniak fully understands that strategy execution initiatives inevitably encounter all manner of barriers, challenges, etc. and so he correctly stresses the importance of managing change as a complicated, sometimes volatile process. Hrebiniak addresses many of the same issues which Bossidy and Charan do in Execution: The Discipline of Results. However, I think he explores them in much greater depth. Most important of all, at least to me, is the fact Hrebiniak’s book is mercifully free of esoteric theories and obese hypotheses. He devotes most of his attention to explaining what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and how to do it effectively.
The material is carefully organized within ten chapters whose subjects range from “Strategy Execution Is the Key” to “Summary and Application: Making Mergers and Acquisitions Work,” followed by an Appendix in which Hrebiniak provides a strategy execution survey conducted by The Wharton School of Pennsylvania and GartnerG2 in 2003. There are references to survey results throughout the book. For example, responses to a section on “Obstacles to Strategy Execution” (Table 1.1 on page 17).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stan Felstead - Interchange Resources on 30 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book by Lawrence Hrebiniak provides an integrated approach to to a neglected area.The underlying research based on the experience of hundreds of managers is a major strength together with the authors own consulting experience.

The author in the late stages of a long career shares his insights with you.The Wharton Business School in the US where he is based is different to other Business schools in running workshops on this topic, which is neglected by other institutions.If I could afford to attend one of his workshops I would do so, his book is a good alternative.

What you get for your money is coverage of key areas-organisation structure and execution,effective coordination,incentives etc and a case study that pulls it all together.

The author highlights the problem of speed in strategy implementation and how large complex changes can be damaged by changing to many things at once.He stresses that it may be desirable and necessary but is fraught with problems.

If you want a contrasting approach to organisational change that sets out how to plan and execute rapid change see " Fast Forward - Organisational change in 100 days" - Oxford University Press - by E Murray and P Richardson.The basis of their research appears more limited than Hrebiniak's work, but is still a very useful source of ideas/guidance.

Making strategy work is a book that I will refer to frequently in my work as an interim manager/consultant.

The following article is worth a look from the Jan/Feb, 2010 - Harvard Business Review:

- Accelerating Corporate Transformations.(Dont lose your nerve!)
Six mistakes that can derail your company`s attempts to change.

Stan Felstead-Interchange Resources UK.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was the primary text for our Strategy Implementation module for the UCD Smurfit Executive MBA course. It was universally reviled and even the lecturer admitted that he had issues with the book. However there was no better alternative.

The book organises itself around the top issues related to strategy implementation from a Wharton-Gartner and Wharton Exec Ed survey. Here lies the first issue. Though Hrebniak imparts his immense experience and thoughts on these subject areas individually, he fails to do any rigorous analysis on the underlying issues (root cause or causes if any exist) which may link them together or possibly suggest that other areas need attention. As he fails to do this the subsequent discussions in each chapter fail to pull together strongly. One of the points the Hrebniak makes is that strategy implementation requires strong cohesion in objectives, plans, actions and metrics, yet his book fails to show that same level of cohesion.

There were numerous points of issues with some of the models and approaches Hrebniak presents. Most are related to apparent failure to consider certain practical issues but none fatally question the rationale.

Two specific examples:

1) Managing Change: Hrebniak has a very strong preference for implementing change in a sequential manner, emphasising the need to learn from cause-effect analysis. In real life, it is rarely practical to implement change in a primarily sequential manner. Often several strategic level changes will have to occur due to time constraints. Concomitantly, cause-effect analysis often takes a back seat which is unfortunate.
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