Strategy Implementation

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe strategy implementation

Regardless of how solid a strategy seems in concept, the proof is in implementation. Former AlliedSignal CEO and co-author of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (among other books) Larry Bossidy states that “execution is the ability to mesh strategy with reality, align people with goals, and achieve the promised results.”[1] Specifically, the implementation phase is where the competitive strategy (which was previously developed in the strategy formulation phase) is translated into strategic goals and objectives, with associated accountability metrics and timelines.

A photograph of scrabble tiles spelling out the word "implement"

The organization’s choice of strategy has implications for human resources structure, policies and practices—including recruitment, employee training and development. From a human resource management standpoint, the key to successful implementation is alignment: aligning culture with an organization’s mission and values; reviewing and redefining, as necessary, job descriptions; selecting employees who have the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) as well as the mindset to drive the desired results and ensuring that structures, policies and systems (for example, compensation and incentive systems) reinforce desired behavior and performance. We’ll discuss this in Organizational Strategic Planning but in the interim, let’s take a look at an example in real life.

U.S. Government Accountability Office

Here is an excerpt from the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) 2013–2015 Human Capital Plan that reflects the alignment of the GAO’s human capital plan to the agency’s strategic goals:[2]

GAO’s strategic goals:

  1. Address current and emerging challenges to the well-being and financial security of the American people
  2. Respond to changing security threats and the challenges of global interdependence
  3. Help transform the federal government to address national challenges, and
  4. Maximize the value of GAO by enabling quality, timely service to the Congress and being a leading practices federal agency

GAO’s human capital strategic plan is aligned with Goal 4. The associated human capital objectives are:

  1. Improve efficiency and effectiveness in performing GAO’s mission and delivering quality products and services to the Congress and the American people
  2. Maintain and enhance a diverse workforce and inclusive work environment through strengthened recruiting, retention development, and reward programs
  3. Expand networks, collaborations, and partnerships that promote professional standards and enhance GAO’s knowledge, agility, and response time and
  4. Be a responsible steward of GAO’s human, information, fiscal, technological, and physical resources.

What you see in the above example is a clear alignment of the GAO’s human capital plan to the agency’s strategic goals. For example, the human capital plan seeks to maximize the value of the GAO by improving the agency’s efficiency and effectiveness, being a responsible steward of resources and enhancing knowledge, agility and response time. The human capital plan addresses the “leading practices” point by prioritizing a diverse workforce and inclusive work environment and expanding networks and partnerships that promote professional standards.

  1. Bossidy, Larry. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. New York, NY: Crown Business, 2002.
  2. "GAO's Human Capital Strategic Plan, 2013–2015." United States Government Accountability Office. 2013. Accessed July 30, 2019.