The Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage
Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton
Harvard Business Press (2009)
I agree with Kaplan and Norton that managing strategy differs from managing operations but both are vital and need to be integrated. I appreciate their mastery of what Roger Martin characterizes as “integrative thinking” in The Opposable Mind. That is, they agree with Thomas Edison’s observation that serves as the title of this review: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”
They also agree with Peter Drucker who once observed, “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” According to Michael Porter, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” That is why Kaplan and Norton devote almost all of their attention to focusing on (a) what is most important in terms of linking strategy to operations for competitive advantage and (b) how to do that with resources and initiatives that are cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective.
Also, as in their previous books, Kaplan and Norton share information, insights, and advice that are relevant to any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. No two organizations are exactly the same…nor is any organization the same today as it was a year ago or will be a year from now.
Kaplan and Norton do everything humanly possible to educate their reader with regard to what is needed to link strategy to operations for competitive advantage but they also help their reader to develop what I characterize as the “executive premium” mindset:
- challenge all assumptions and premises
- seek out and welcome principled dissent
- be receptive to unorthodox ideas (especially from unexpected sources)
- focus (as do Kaplan and Norton) on what is most important and measure all initiatives
- view each setback not as a failure but as a precious learning opportunity.
Bob Morris is a business journalist, Top 30 Book Reviewer on Amazon.com, and author of the blog bobmorris.biz.