Future of Strategy Execution in Graduate Business Curriculums

One of the most significant management challenges facing public and private organizations including colleges and universities in the 21st century is the ability to execute their strategies successfully. In fact, 90 percent are failing to do so, according to the book The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, by Robert Kaplan and David Norton.

For Michael Porter, Professor at Harvard Business School (HBS), strategy execution is, indeed, a major issue for all types of organizations today. Yet, there have not been significant improvements in the ability of organizations to successfully execute strategy. 

Possible contributing factors to this problem include: 

  • Only part of the problem is covered: Most of the courses cover strategic management and leadership topics with only one or two weeks focused on strategy execution /implementation
  • Strategy Execution courses don’t go deep enough: None of the courses examined by study Strategy Execution: An Incomplete Component of Business Education? discusses how to link the execution layer --or projects-- with business strategy and manage ongoing changes to business strategy despite this being a critical aspect of strategy execution. The teaching method addresses the what and why well, but does not provide details on the how, which is often context/organization specific
  • Business architecture offers a needed complement: The incomplete picture presented in many business curriculums could be a contributing factor to the persistent problem of strategy execution seen in many organizations

Business Architecture to the rescue: 

The discipline of Business Architecture offers a potential complement to the traditionally taught strategy execution related topics. Business Architecture, an evolving discipline that has its roots in enterprise architecture and IT strategic planning, has evolved substantially over the last decade to become more formalized. Business Architecture has, thus, moved from enterprise architecture to being practiced as a strategic discipline, reporting to a business function in many organizations. 

Business Architecture comprises ten domains that represent the business ecosystem as shown in the figure below: 


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Source: MBA Roundtable/BA Guild 

The MBA Roundtable, a global association of business schools, and the Business Architecture Guild®, a global not-for-profit association have partnered to better understand how the topic of strategy execution is approached in graduate business education and suggest possible reasons why strategy execution remains elusive in many organizations. 

Their recently published study, Strategy Execution: An Incomplete Component of Business Education?, was conducted to assess the state of strategic execution education in graduate business curriculums and suggest possible reasons why strategic execution remains elusive in so many organizations, according to Brian Cameron, PhD, Associate Dean for Professional Graduate Programs and Executive Education, Smeal College of Business at the Pennsylvania State University. 

The study suggests that strategy execution is often taught in a cursory manner in graduate business schools, and when a strategy execution or implementation related course is offered, it is taught at a high-level with a focus on the human and organizational element of strategy execution or implantation education, which addresses a gap in graduate business curriculums. 

Business architecture’s role in strategy formulation and execution: