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The Brightline Initiative and HBR-AS Global Survey Report Highlights How Culture Beats Structure

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Research conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in association with Brightline™ Initiative explores how organizations can change their way of working to improve strategy execution. The report titled “Testing Organizational Boundaries to Improve Strategy Execution” is the result of 1,636 executives surveyed worldwide on their strategy implementation capabilities.

The report sheds light on “strategy implementation leaders” that can quickly adapt to meet new or unexpected market, competitor, or customer needs. Organizations that are implementation leaders are much more successful and achieve 80% or more of their strategic goals. One in five organizations are classified as being implementation leaders. Most organizations are implementation “laggards” that miss their strategic targets year after year and as a result, their financial situation suffers.

The report highlights the best-practices of implementation leaders that other organizations can adopt. These high performing organizations foster engagement, provide coaching and reward collaboration. They also take great strides in creating distinctive cultures that minimize silos, encourage cross-functional work and use decentralized decision making. 80% of the high performing organizations agree that a culture of collaboration must be actively pursued and rewarded. For 77% of the implementation leaders, their organizational structure helps them carry out strategy, which is almost as many as implementation laggards (63%) who express that their organizational structure hinders their ability to execute. Realizing that culture beats structure, leading organizations focus on building a winning culture, over perfecting their org chart.

Ricardo Vargas, the Executive Director of Brightline Initiative stresses the importance of the research. “The organizations that are able to transform themselves and win in the market place have built a great culture, and not just a formal structure. It is the culture, not structure that motivates people to achieve transformational results,” he said.

Edivandro Conforto, the Head of Strategy Research at Brightline Initiative adds, “This report shows that among the main reasons some organizations are more successful than others in bridging the strategy-implementation gap is their effectiveness at decision-making to quickly adapt to new or unexpected market changes, competitor moves or customer needs by fostering a culture of collaboration, engagement, purpose and accountability.”

“To combat siloed ways of working, successful leaders need to create incentives and forge processes that encourage and reward collaboration across organizational boundaries,” said Alex Clemente, Managing Director of Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. “This research demonstrates the extent to which structure can enable or prevent organizations from executing their strategic goals. Since so many organizations fail on execution, senior executives should consider whether this is an organizational blind spot.”

The full report, Testing Organizational Boundaries to Improve Strategy Execution, is available for download at Brightline’s online resource library.

About Brightline Initiative

The Brightline™ Initiative is a coalition led by the Project Management Institute (PMI) together with leading global organizations dedicated to helping executives bridge the expensive and unproductive gap between strategy design and delivery. Learn more at www.brightline.org.

About the Brightline Coalition

Project Management Institute (PMI), Boston Consulting Group, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Saudi Telecom Company, Lee Hecht Harrison, Agile Alliance, and NetEase

Academic and Research Collaboration

MIT Consortium for Engineering Program Excellence, Technical University of Denmark, University of Tokyo Global Teamwork Lab, Blockchain Research Institute, and Insper

Contact information

Brightline Initiative Contact:
Dr. Edivandro Carlos Conforto
Head of Strategy Research
edivandro.conforto@brightline.org

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