Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution

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To stay ahead of the pack, you must translate your organization's competitive strategy into day-to-day actions that will enable your company to win in the marketplace. This means channeling resources into the right efforts, striking a balance between innovation and control, and getting everyone pulling in the same direction.

How to accomplish all this? Continually ask the right questions, advises Harvard Business School professor Robert Simons. By posing these provocative questions, you identify critical gaps in your strategy execution processes, focus on the most important choices you must make, and understand what's at stake in each one.

In this concise guide, Simons presents the seven key questions you and your team must regularly explore together:

·Who is your primary customer? Have you organized your company to deliver maximum value to that customer?

·How do your core values prioritize shareholders, employees, and customers? Is everyone in your company committed to those values?

·What critical performance variables are you tracking? How are you creating accountability for performance on those variables?

·What strategic boundaries have you set? Does everyone know what actions are off-limits?

·How are you generating creative tension? Is that tension catalyzing innovation across units?

·How committed are your employees to helping each other? Are they sharing responsibility for your company’s success?

·What strategic uncertainties keep you awake at night? How are you riveting everyone's attention on those uncertainties?

These questions force you to reexamine the unspoken assumptions underlying your strategy and analyze how it's implemented through your business processes and structures. Simons' extensive examples then help you understand your options and make the tough choices needed for your company to excel at execution.

Drawing on decades of research into performance management systems and organization design, Seven Strategy Questions is a no-nonsense, must-read resource for all leaders in your organization.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“While leaders cannot always have the right answers, they must know how to ask the right questions to drive strategy. Simons captures the power of this leadership approach in a highly inspiring and engaging way. It is essential reading for experienced managers as well as for everyone new to a leadership role.”

Kasper Rorsted, CEO, Henkel Germany

“Simons’s book is a concise reminder of the critical questions that successful CEOs must constantly ask themselves in a rapidly changing world.”

John Rowe, Chairman and CEO, Exelon Corporation

“Seven Strategy Questions recognizes that every business creates value for customers differently, and sets out a useful framework for challenging strategic assumptions and gaining focus. The book provides invaluable insight for any business leader.”

Ron Williams, Chairman and CEO, Aetna Inc.

“I highly recommend this book as a must-read for CEOs and other senior executives. Simons has distilled the essence of competing and winning in the marketplace down to seven hard-hitting, high-impact questions that all of us should have in mind as we manage in the unpredictable and much-less-forgiving ‘new normal.’”

Nils Andersen, Group CEO of A.P. Møller-Maersk

"Simons provides a remarkably insightful path to clarity in defining and executing strategy, guiding us away from distractions and worse. Though closing with a question about what keeps you up at night, this book will help you sleep better."

Arne M. Sorenson, President and COO, Marriott International

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422133323
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 11/16/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 326,188
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Simons is the Charles M. Williams Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. For twenty-five years, he has taught accounting, management control, and strategy implementation courses in the Harvard MBA and Executive Education programs. His research has been published in journals including Sloan Management Review and Strategic Management Journal.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A concise, focused guide to the seven essential questions that ensure your strategy is on track

    Harvard professor of business administration Robert Simons believes that each organization has its own distinctive answers for success in strategic planning. Simons melds his extensive knowledge of business strategy, organization design and management control systems into a tightly focused, concise guide that illuminates the “seven strategy questions” everyone in your company should ask regularly and be able to answer. While this concise handbook may simplify in its quest to streamline, getAbstract recommends it to small business owners and corporate leaders as a powerful resource for uncovering the critical insights necessary for effective strategic planning.

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