Hewlett is a woman of many talents—she’s an economist, renowned speaker, and CEO of a consulting firm (Hewlett Consulting Partners) and non-profit think tank (Talent Innovation). She’s penned 10 books, including her latest, “Executive Presence,” in which she discusses how your perception of yourself shapes your advancement in the workplace.
In the real world, the difficult part is understanding the problem
As the web made the ability to gather customers’ feedback early on, and as the whole process becomes less and less expensive, also lean approaches evolved, to gain feedback from customers as early as possible.
Is business strategy a science?
Thus, I need to understand where to focus my attention in a relatively long period of time (3-5 years at least) and make sure that those ideas I pursue are able to generate profits, which – in my opinion – might be a valid indicator that those ideas are correct for the time being.
- Those successful companies have turned into Super Gatekeepers to billions of people: as I showed in the gatekeeping hypothesis, and in the surfer’s model, a go-to-market strategy for startups will need to be able to leverage existing digital pipelines to reach key customers.
- Modeling and experimentation: another key point is about modeling what’s working for other businesses and borrowing parts of those models, to see what works for our business. By borrowing parts you can build your own business model, yet that requires a lot of testing.
- Skin in the game testing: therefore business models become key tools for experimentation, where we can use real customers’ feedback (not a survey, or opinions but actions) and test our hypotheses and assumptions. When we’re able to sell our products, when people keep getting back to our platform, or service, there is no best way to test our assumptions that measure those actions.
Strategy Thought Leadership
While personal experience is valuable, seeking out other people’s perspectives and ideas may inspire you to approach the strategy process differently. There are many business thought leaders today who have expert insights on the very elements that impact the success of strategic planning and execution, specifically:
A lot of companies craft a strategy, but once it’s done, they tuck it away in a binder and put it on a shelf. Writing a strategy is only step one; you may have a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish, but if you can’t convey it to your team, it will be almost impossible to carry out. So step two is to unite everyone’s efforts by communicating the strategy to the rest of your organization (beyond just the strategy team), clearly explaining what everyone is working toward and how they should be doing it.
Communication is a two-way street, and just as important as spreading the word about your strategy is listening to feedback about it. According to business thought leader Melissa Daimler, listening with the intent to understand is a challenging skill to master—not everyone is equally inclined to be attentive and open-minded. The best CEOs and business leaders take time to seek out employee feedback and are willing to make changes to the strategy if necessary to strengthen it.
The ability of leaders to inspire and motivate their employees to want to take action is critical to strategy execution. Your team needs to be aligned and on-board with your strategic objectives and goals to be successful. But building a positive, strategy-friendly culture takes skill and effort. Make sure your employees know what they need to do and have what they need to succeed. Encourage people to pay attention to the strategy on a daily basis by creating incentives that are aligned with results.
Performance management is an ongoing process that ensures the organization stays continuously on track to achieve its goals. Implementing projects, tracking progress toward your objectives, and conducting regular performance reviews are crucial activities for realizing strategic goals. And pulling it all off requires detail-oriented individuals who excel at communication and collaboration.
Whether or not your organization’s ranks are filled with veteran CEOs, strategy planners, and managers, you can benefit from the insights of thought leaders in business, who often have unique points of view about issues relevant to strategy planning and execution. The 30 men and women listed below (ranked alphabetically by last name) represent a mix of business and strategy thought leaders, many of whom I follow for advice myself. We’ve summed up their credentials, and included a quote from each that we felt was relevant to strategy planning and execution. If you follow these people, I’m confident you’ll pick up some valuable advice that will help you plan a smarter strategy—and make it stick.
Top 30 Business Thought Leaders
1. Teresa M. Amabile
Teresa Amabile is a Director of Research and Professor of Business Administration at Harvard. She studies how routine activities within an organization influence employee performance. Her latest book, “The Progress Principle,” teaches managers how to build up morale, engagement, creativity, and productivity within a team. She has presented her research-driven theories in public and private forums around the world, and implements her research and practices in major corporations.
“As a senior executive, you may think you know what Job Number 1 is: developing a killer strategy. In fact, this is only Job 1a. You have a second, equally important task. Call it Job 1b: enabling the ongoing engagement and everyday progress of the people in the trenches of your organization who strive to execute that strategy.”
2. Bob Burg
Bob Burg is a well-known speaker, author, and business thought leader who focuses on sales. His first book, “Endless Referrals,” was published in 1993 (and is now in its third edition). Endless Referrals focuses on the importance and power behind building relationships. Pinned at the top of Burg’s Twitter feed is a tweet that reads, “The single greatest ‘people skill’ is a highly developed & authentic interest in the *other* person.” His latest book series (including “The Go-Giver,” a parable-style tale) places emphasis on (surprise!) giving rather than getting. If you’re in a sales-based position, Burg’s tips will certainly be helpful.
3. Clayton Christensen
Before his death in early 2020, Oxford and Harvard graduate Clayton Christensen was regarded as one of the foremost authorities on strategic thought and innovation. He authored and co-authored dozens of bestselling books and journal articles throughout the years, including “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and “The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty.” The former Harvard business school professor is also the figurehead behind the Clayton Christensen Institute, a think tank dedicated to improving the world through disruptive innovation.
“You can talk all you want about having a clear purpose and strategy for your life, but ultimately this means nothing if you are not investing the resources you have in a way that is consistent with your strategy. In the end, a strategy is nothing but good intentions unless it’s effectively implemented.”
4. Lee Cockerell
As the former vice president of operations for Walt Disney World, Lee Cockerell knows a thing or two about excellence in the service management industry. His last two books—both published in 2016—are aptly titled “Time Management Magic” and “Career Magic.” The former is focused on making the best use of your time, the latter focused on how to handle the high and low points of your career. Check out his website or his latest tweets for more details.
“Culture eats strategy for lunch. You get the culture right, your people will help you implement any strategy you come up with. You don’t get the culture right, you’re not gonna get anywhere because they won’t help you. They’ll quit.”
5. Cheryl Snapp Conner
Public Relations (PR) and communication expert Cheryl Conner has created a name for herself through bridging the gap between communication and business strategy. She is the founder and managing partner of Snapp Conner PR, an industry-leading firm that has worked with dozens of large companies worldwide. Conner has been a regular contributor to Forbes and The Wall Street Journal.
“Whether you work in a new industry or a traditional market, it is vital to look beyond the way your company is succeeding today to think about how you need to position your solution and message to ensure you don’t become obsolete.”
6. Lolly Daskal
Lolly Daskal is considered one of the foremost leadership experts in the world and is hired by some of the top executives around the globe to help them make a positive impact in their organizations and beyond. Her latest book, “The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness,” focuses on how to become a better leader—as do the many articles you can find on her blog. If you want to learn to become a stronger leader from a pro, make sure you’re following Daskal.
7. Steve Denning
Steve Denning’s expertise lies in the parallels between storytelling and management. He works with companies worldwide, consulting on innovative new business techniques and practices. If you’re looking to turn traditional management thinking on its head and understand management in a new way, Denning’s latest book, “The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management,” is a must-read.
“Storytelling translates dry and abstract numbers into compelling pictures of a leader’s goals. Although good business cases are developed through the use of numbers, they are typically approved on the basis of a story—that is, a narrative that links a set of events in some kind of causal sequence.”