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Episode 473: Successfully Achieving Strategy (Free)

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Organizations are successful based on their ability to achieve strategic goals. However, too many organizations waste time and money on developing strategy but don’t achieve their goals.

What goes wrong?

Join Frank Parth of www.projectauditors.com and Cornelius Fichtner in their discussion of these concepts in Frank's new book Successfully Achieving Strategy Through Effective Portfolio Management.

This episode was recorded live and, as usual, we got some insightful questions and comments from the audience!

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Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Video Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: In this episode of The Project Management Podcast™, we look at the drivers behind successfully achieving a corporate strategy.

Hello and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com. This is the live stream for Episode 473 and I’m Cornelius Fichtner. Thank you so much for joining us today live.

And for those of you who are accessing this episode recorded and not live, please do remember this is a video episode then please look for the “Play video episode” link in your podcast app or visit www.pm-podcast.com/473.

So, organizations are successful based on their ability to achieve strategic goals. However, too many organizations waste time and money on developing strategy but then don’t achieve their goals. The question obviously is ‘why?’ What is going wrong?

And since very often, organizations launch projects to implement their strategy and then fail, does that mean that we project managers are partly to blame and if ‘yes’ what can we do?

Video Presentation

Cornelius Fichtner: Joining us today is Frank Parth from www.projectauditors.com. Welcome back, Frank!

Frank Parth: Good morning, Cornelius! It’s nice to see you again.

Cornelius Fichtner: It’s very nice to see you as well. Thank you so much for joining us. For those of you who do not know Frank who has been on the program previously, he brings 30 years of experience in project and program management technology developments to his teaching and consulting work.

After his career in aerospace, he created his own company and created program management offices for several fortune 1000 companies, has consulted to clients in multiple industries/sectors, high-tech construction chemical processing, utilities, government, aerospace, healthcare, and the consulting industry, as well as financial services all around the globe.

He has taught project management courses in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and has been an adjunct professor of project management and systems engineering at the University of California Irvine, their extensions program since 1994 where he also helped to create the UCI’s project management strategic program.

Also, he is an occasional guest lecturer at the USC’s Marshall School of Business and a regular lecturer at the American University of Sharjah in the UAE. I probably pronounced that wrong, my apologies. And he wrote several books. One of them being “Successfully Achieving Strategy.” Wait, let me take that logo away so that you can actually see it in its glory. There we go! Successfully Achieving Strategy.

In this book, he looks at what goes wrong during strategy implementation. For example poor predictions about the future, internal politics that impact the project selected, biases in the decision-making process and other stumbling blocks. And the book then provides an approach that significantly increases an organization’s ability to achieve its strategy. This is not a book about developing strategy. This is a book that will help you actually achieving the strategy. Well, we’ll get more into that particular part of the book a little later during the conversation.

Strategy is necessary but it is a complete waste of time until it is effectively turned into real results. Now, since this is a live stream, please don’t forget, use the chat. Let us know in the chat if you have a question for Frank. And obviously, the number one question, the first question that I have for you, Frank, is this, because the marketing text for your book begins with the words: “Why didn’t you achieve your strategy?” What in your opinion are the top two, three reasons why organizations do not achieve their strategy? What’s going on?

Frank Parth: Well, Cornelius, if you look at the management literature like Harvard Business Review or something like that, there are tremendous number of articles about strategy. Out of those basic form, is strategy even necessary? In a fast-moving environment, what should the strategic goals be? One year, three years, five years, we use to talk about a ten-year strategy. That doesn’t seem to make sense anymore.

There is some general consensus on why we consistently fail in our strategy. Unfortunately, a lot of the researchers agrees with each other too. Often cited as the number one reason is that we did a poor job understanding what the real strategic goals where, and we’ve selected a poor strategy to get there. There’s a number of goals that an organization can have, and there’s a lot of internal politics and personal biases at the management level when it comes to selecting strategy. And that makes it challenging to select a strategy.

Another reason, another major reason is that the external environment changed. The whole world changed around us, and so as our strategic goals no longer make sense, which makes it really hard to achieve a strategy.

And, the third reason is that they didn’t actually implement the strategy they selected. They have this wonderful, nice sounding strategy but they didn’t bother to gather the implementation details. The strategy selection is executive management’s responsibility. The actual implementation is lower in the organization and most roles are often quite not very well communicated down to the lower levels.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay, so those are maybe some of the reasons why strategy doesn’t get implemented but what are some of the consequences that come out of this. So, if I do implement my strategy, obviously, I’m going in the right direction. But if I don’t, what are consequences of not implementing the strategy, of not achieving the implementation?

Frank Parth: Well, in the short term, what you’re going to do is waste time and money doing work that doesn’t support the strategic goals. Well, in the long term, [some of them] are going to find themselves increasingly behind the competitors that do effctively implement strategy and will eventually fail.

There are some classical examples about this. Think about the Eastman Kodak Company. They developed the digital camera, and they could have taken over the lion’s share of the market. But the film side of the business which is so profitable, yet they killed the camera because they know it’s going to impact their short-term profits.

Another example that shows up in the literature, IBM had the same problem. They basically developed the personal computer. But all the money came from the mainframe side of the business, and they decided that personal computers were never going to go anywhere so they shut that part of the business down. And, again, if you don’t achieve, if you don’t define the right strategic goals and achieve them, you can struggle to survive.

Cornelius Fichtner: I’ve got two comments here from our audience. The first one is from, oh, Nandhini Manikhavel: “OKR is a good a technique, method to achieve our strategic goals.” Do you know what OKR stands for, Frank?

Frank Parth: No, I’m afraid not.

Cornelius Fichtner: No, in that case we’ll move on and maybe Nandhini, you may want to explain what OKR is. The second one here is from Abdiasis Jama: “I think ineffective program and project management is the reason organizations don’t achieve strategy.” I believe, we will be talking about this a little bit later on, how project and program management actually affects this.

Back to the ‘why not here,’ what about strategy consultants, right? Dime a dozen out there, can they help ensuring that we select and implement the right strategies?

Frank Parth: The answer is maybe.

Cornelius Fichtner: If you pick the right one, if you pick a good one?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

PDUs: Strategic and Business Management, Strategy implementation

  • Last updated on .
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on projectmanagement.com and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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