It turns out that companies are pretty good at developing digital strategy initiatives to push their transformation efforts forward—the problems begin when it’s time to execute. New research from portfolio and value stream management firm Planview uncovers common disconnects in strategy implementation leading to failures in critical digital initiatives, and reveal a stark reality—if businesses do not accelerate efforts to close the gap between strategy and action, the consequences are significant: wasted work, sunk costs, failed digital transformations, and the threat of becoming obsolete.
The survey for the firm’s new global study, Bridging the Gap: Turning Strategy Into Reality, was conducted by Economist Impact, the research arm of The Economist, which was alarmed by this inefficiency and waste in digitalization. Among the key findings revealed in the global survey of 600 executives across seven countries and six industries was that only 14 percent of executives expressed confidence in their company’s decision-making governance.
“With economic uncertainties, market disruptions, the rapid advancement of technologies like AI, and the growing digitalization imperative impacting every industry, the pace of change and complexity of decision-making is growing exponentially. Organizations across the globe are experiencing the realities of ‘adapt, evolve, or die.’ Yet only 15 percent of executives are confident in their company’s ability to adapt to change,” said Razat Gaurav, CEO at Planview, in a news release. “Companies must be able to prioritize their initiatives in a capital and capacity-constrained environment, quickly analyze and adapt their project and product initiatives, making critical decisions that drive important outcomes. The key is connecting company strategy and how work is executed across the business.”
Other key findings include:
- 84 percent of executives need to improve data-driven decision-making.
- One-third report challenges related to process, metrics, and data as critical hindrances in evaluating the progress of initiatives tied to business strategy.
- Most respondents think their organization needs to improve accountability in strategy implementation (86 percent) and goal setting and performance-monitoring systems (84 percent).
- Critically, only 20 percent of executives are confident in the resources allocated for implementation.
The research outlines an interconnected and interdependent framework for driving change to address these disconnects. Serving as a blueprint for bridging the strategy-implementation gap, the report is focused on five recommendations—alignment, accountability, resourcing, agility, and culture.
“When there is total clarity at the top around strategy, it becomes possible to ensure that it cascades effectively throughout the organization, up, down, and sideways,” said Rhonda Hiatt, corporate strategy consultant, in the release. “And that allows executives to ensure that everyone is marching in the same direction.”
These findings derive from desk research and a global survey conducted by Economist Impact in April and May 2023 of 600 executives across seven countries (Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, United States and the United Kingdom) and six industries (business & professional services, financial services, healthcare & life sciences, IT/technology, manufacturing, retail & FMCG). Findings were supplemented by insights derived from a series of expert interviews.