Strategy and Implementation

Strategy addresses the what and why of marketing programs and activities; implementation addresses the who, where, when, and how. According to McKinsey & Company, strategy is only one of seven elements—all of which start with the letter s—in successful business practice.18 The first three—strategy, structure, and systems—are considered the “hardware” of success. The next four—style, skills, staff, and shared values—are the “software.” When these elements are present, companies are usually more successful at strategy implementation.19 Implementation depends on management exercising control over marketing programs that support the strategy. A company’s strategic fit with the environment will inevitably erode because the market environment changes faster than the company’s seven Ss. Thus, a company might remain efficient yet lose effectiveness. Peter Drucker pointed out that it is more important to “do the right thing”—to be effective—than “to do things right”—to be efficient. The most successful companies, however, excel at both.

Organizations, especially large ones, are subject to inertia. It’s difficult to change one part without adjusting everything else. Yet organizations can be changed through strong leadership, preferably in advance of a crisis. The key to organizational health is willingness to examine the changing environment and adopt new goals and behaviors. “Marketing Insight: Businesses Charting a New Direction” describes how some companies are adjusting to the new marketing realities.

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