They began by sorting the organizations into 40 industry specific groups –
each with similar scale, scope, finances, and future prospects. Next, each company’s
ten-year track record was analyzed and all the firms were divided into one of
- Winners who consistently did better than their competitors,
- Losers who fell short time after time,
- Climbers who started off poorly but found a way to improve dramatically,
- Tumblers who began with a definite advantage but then went south.
The analysts cross-referenced the strategic plans at each of those companies
with some 200-plus high-powered tactics. All the brightest ideas were on the
list – from “Customer Relationship Management” to “Six
Sigma,” from “360-degree Feedback” to “Enterprise Resource
By reviewing both the 10-year track records at each company and the strategic
choices among all the popular initiatives the research teams were able to separate
cause and effect. In other words, they identified which of these business strategies
made a substantial impact on a firm’s competitive advantage and which
The final conclusion surprised everyone.
“It matters little whether you centralize or decentralize…
if you implement ERP software or a CRM system,” wrote the experts in
their final analysis, “it matters very much though that whatever you
choose to implement you execute it flawlessly.”
Conventional wisdom is wrong. Becoming a winner, a loser, a climber or tumbler
in any industry is not the result of finding (or failing to find) the perfect
strategy for your organization. What makes or breaks your company is your grasp
over management’s most basic mission – to make sure everyone at
every level is following through.
That’s a lot harder than it sounds. To make sure that what’s expected
actually gets done a manager must:
- Communicate what’s expected in terms everyone can understand,
- Match the right people to every strategy,
- Getting their teams off to a great start,
- Maintain momentum long after the mood has passed.