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Bridging the strategy-execution gap: Strategic planning in times of change
This paper analyses the strategy-execution gap, which occurs when strategy design and strategy execution are disconnected. Increased competition and digital disruption are just some of the indicators that point towards an industry facing major and constant change. The paper discusses a number of intrinsic weaknesses in strategy design, which can reduce an organszation’s capability to successfully manage change. Conventional strategy design produces static strategies, which capture the organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, but only to the extent visibility on these exists at the time of strategy design. The organisation, however, will be exposed to far more potential disruptors than its leadership team can oversee. These evolve, and new and different ones will arise over time. This paper also discusses potential weaknesses in strategy execution. Traditional strategic planning processes produce top-down strategies, which may prevent the bottom-up engagement of the wider organisation and its ecosystem of customers, business partners and other key stakeholders. Without this feedback loop, an organisation may struggle to calibrate its strategy against real-time dynamics and to effectively respond to change. If strategy design and execution become disconnected, change can outpace strategy and business continuity may be at risk. Therefore this strategy-execution gap should be understood and managed. The paper discusses a more dynamic approach to strategic planning. Dynamic strategies reflect ongoing dialogue, an organisation’s unique competitive differentiator, certain fundamental choices and, above all, flexibility. By enabling the organisation to effectively respond to real-time disruptors, while keeping it on course to achieve its long-term strategic objectives, strategic planning can bridge the strategy-execution gap.
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Björn Hassert is an experienced strategist. He has held senior leadership positions with airlines and airports worldwide. Having trained as a lawyer, he has worked in corporate, operational and commercial management roles. As an independent adviser, he has supported leadership teams in the areas of strategy design, strategy execution and change management. He currently works with Brussels Airport Company as the Head of Strategic Planning. In this position he is privileged to lead a talented and motivated team, responsible for strategy execution, infrastructure planning and design management. Björn is passionate about airports as global villages that connect people to local communities, both nearby and across the globe.