A recent survey of more than 400 global CEOs revealed that the
ability to execute strategy was their number one challenge, ahead of
innovation, geopolitical instability, and top-line growth.Executives
are right to be concerned. At least two-thirds of large organizations struggle
to implement their strategies. This course is designed to help global
executives close the gap between strategic intent and results by introducing a
systematic framework and hands-on tools to drive execution in their own
Application deadline for the March 2018 session is February 2, 2018 Application deadline for the July 2018 session is June 5, 2018
Closing the Gap Between Strategy and Execution Certificate Track: Strategy and Innovation Location:
Cambridge, Massachusetts Tuition:
$4,500 (excluding accommodations) Program Days (for ACE Credit) 2
Most leaders rely on a set of implicit beliefs about how to get
things done when they try to execute their strategy. Many common assumptions
about execution, however, are incomplete at best and dangerous at worst.
Despite its importance, execution remains poorly understood—for every ten books
on how to formulate a strategy there is only one on how to translate it into
effective action. Executives often focus on specific tools, such as the
balanced scorecard or management by objectives, to manage risk and drive
strategy execution without understanding how these tools interact with one
Led by Dr. Donald Sull, a global expert on strategy execution in
complex organizations, this two-day course will help leaders reframe execution
so that they can avoid common mistakes and focus on the actions that are most
likely to bring results. The course introduces a systemic view of strategy
execution based on over a decade of research and field-tested in dozens of
corporations around the world.
As part of your participation in this program, you and 30 or more
of your colleagues will complete a state-of-the-art survey in advance of the
course. The data from this survey will be analyzed to provide you with
real-time insights that help pinpoint concrete opportunities to improve your
organization’s execution capacity.
Closing the Gap Between Strategy and Execution is:
Practical. All of the tools and frameworks introduced in the course have been
field-tested with corporations and not-for-profit organizations around the
world for over a decade. Every session includes at least one self-diagnostic or
template to help you translate the course content into specific actions
tailored to you and your organization. The course will provide tools and takeaways
to help you translate insights into concrete actions when you return to work.
Tailored to operating executives. The program introduces a simple framework to identify the leader’s role
in execution, as well as data-driven insights to translate their strategy into
measurable results. Participants will learn how to effectively structure and
guide discussions that are critical to implementation.
Systematic and comprehensive. Execution is explored as an iterative process of risk management, making
sense of the current environment, prioritizing activities and investments,
securing commitments and ensuring delivery, and making revisions in light of
Based in practical research. The course is grounded in Sull’s research, including dozens of structured
experiments that involved structured interventions in companies and that
quantified the impact on operational and financial results. A state-of-the art
survey uses big data to measure and quantify how well organizations execute
their strategy and identify specific areas for improvement.
Hands on and interactive.The sessions include a mix of case study discussions, interactive
lectures, in-class exercises, and opportunities to learn from peers
Participants of this course will leave
A comprehensive model of strategy
Data-based insights from a
state-of-the-art survey that will help you pinpoint concrete opportunities to
improve your organization’s execution capacity
Best practices from some of the most
effective organizations in the world
A structured tool for developing a
strategy for execution that is easy to communicate and translate into action
Simple rules to embed strategic
guidance into key activities while retaining the flexibility to seize
A series of worksheets to help you
translate, in real time, insights from the course into concrete actions you can
take when you return to work
A framework to identify and manage interdependencies among different parts of your
Guidance on how to retain the agility
to execute your strategy in volatile markets
There is an application process for this course. Enrollment is limited. To be admitted, participants must:
Currently serve as the CEO, MD, or member of an executive team
running a significantly large company or division within a larger organization,
typically booking revenues of at least $30 million.
Have a large scope of responsibility, including managing
teams across multiple units or departments.
Chief Strategy Officers with enterprise or substantial business unit responsibilities, and project managers with responsibility for overseeing large projects, are also strong candidates.
Agree to identify at least 30 of their colleagues who will complete a survey of their organization’s execution capacity. The survey is
completely confidential and administered by MIT Sloan.
Companies who have sent participants to the program in the past include:
Please note that faculty are subject to change and not all faculty teach in each session of the program.
Donald Sull is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Sull is a global authority on managing in turbulent markets, and directs a week-long course on effectively executing strategy in volatile markets. He has been identified as a leading management thinker by The Economist, The Financial Times, and Fortune which named him among the ten new management gurus to know. The Economist listed his theory of active inertia among the ideas that shaped business management over the past century.
He has published five books, including The Upside of Turbulence (2009). His book Made in China was named one of the top eight business books of 2005 by the Financial Times and his book Why Good Companies Go Bad was a finalist for the Academy of Management’s Outstanding Management Book Award. Sull has also written over 100 book chapters, case studies, and articles, including several bestselling Harvard Business Review articles.
As a consultant and management educator, Sull has worked with companies including Mars, Oracle, PIMCO, Royal Bank of Canada, Standard Chartered Bank, Emirates Airline, Baker & McKenzie, Burberry, and Schneider Electric. He speaks regularly at leading management conferences, such as Microsoft’s CEO Summit and the McKinsey Strategy Summit.
Prior to academia, he worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, and a management-investor with the leveraged buyout firm Clayton & Dubilier on the Uniroyal-Goodrich Tire Company deal. He remains active in private equity as an investor and advisor to start-up companies. He lives in London and Cape Cod.
Sull received his AB, MBA, and doctorate from Harvard University, where he taught entrepreneurship at the Harvard Business School before rejoining the London Business School faculty as a professor of management practice in strategy and entrepreneurship. Sull has won teaching awards at both London Business School and Harvard University.
DAY 1 SAMPLE
8:00M - 12:00PM
Winning through execution: The course begins with a discussion of how a new CEO transformed Brahma, a century-old brewer on the brink of bankruptcy, into the most profitable beer company in the world through superior execution.
Why strategy execution unravels, and what you can do about it: This session debunks five of the most common and pernicious myths about strategy execution based on data from a comprehensive survey of over 300 companies and 12,000 managers around the world.
12:00PM - 1:00PM
1:00PM - 5:00PM
Leading for execution: In this highly interactive session, we introduce a simple framework to identify the leader’s role in execution. Based on short videos and discussions, participants will assess their current strengths and weaknesses and identify concrete actions they can take to enhance their effectiveness in leading execution.
DAY 2 SAMPLE
8:00AM - 12:00PM
Simple rules for a complex world: This session introduces a powerful tool for executing strategy based on over a decade of research and work with companies.
Strategy for execution: Discussion of the two essential components of a strategy for execution—an organization’s must-win battles and a concise statement of why they matter. We introduce a process for creating a strategy that is both right and executable.
12:00PM - 1:00PM
1:00PM - 4:00PM
Translating strategy into action with simple rules: A practical process is introduced to identify a specific activity or decision where simple rules can have the greatest impact on achieving strategic objectives. You will have an opportunity to develop an action plan and receive real-time feedback.
Execution in volatile markets: Interactive lecture introducing agility and absorption as two approaches companies can take to execute on opportunities that arise in turbulent markets. Includes diagnostic exercise that participants can use to assess their own organization.
All reviews are submitted by program attendees and are not edited by MIT Sloan Executive Education. Read more about our ratings and reviews.
Don who lead program, was just amazing, practical, to the point and managed to keep us going using great examples and applying tons of sense of humor.
Jul 13, 2017
Jul 24, 2017
Mehaboob Abdul A:
In a very simple yet effective way, backed by years of research data, Don Sull, in a very subtle way walked us through the philosophy of how to keep it simple!
Jul 13, 2017
Aug 5, 2017
This was my first course as part of the MIT program. I was very impressed with the process and communication with the build up to the program. I was also impressed with how Don Sulls lead us through the material using case studies and personal "real life" examples of how things may have worked or not worked in specific companies. This certainly helped to digest the materials.
In discussion with some attendees in other courses going on in parallel, I spoke with a couple that said that the upfront survey made them think that they may not qualify for the course due to the fact they may not have or currently run a large enough organization. I actually had the same concern and thought I may be in over my head; however, that was not the case at all. Something to consider when looking at attendance and registrations for the course.
Oct 25, 2016
Oct 27, 2016
A fantastic walk through of the whitespace between strategy and execution leaving the attendee with insights, thoughts, and techniques to navigate this space effectively by designing strategies for successful execution.
Oct 29, 2015
Nov 5, 2015
[Innovation @Work Blog] A New Book by Strategy Expert Donald Sull
Simple Rules: How can people better manage the complexity inherent in the modern world?
Your Boss Probably Has No Clue What Your Company's Top Priorities Are
The research team started off by asking more than 11,000 senior managers what was supposed to be an easy question: What are your company’s top three to five priorities? The results were “shockingly bad.”
The common perception is that companies, like people, pass through a series of life stages. But executives can avert the seemingly inevitable decline of many mature corporations by viewing their organization as a portfolio of business opportunities at various life cycle stages.
In this interview, Donald Sull shares with Deborah Ancona the humorous and serious sides of the story behind the simple rules idea.
"A fantastic walk through of the white space between strategy and execution leaving the attendee with insights, thoughts, and techniques to navigate this space effectively by designing strategies for successful execution." - Ravikumar R.
Why So Few Managers Understand Their Company's Strategy
In this video, Donald Sull gets to the source of the problem and offers recommendations
for translating strategy into results.
Why Strategy Execution Unravels—and What to Do About It
In this article, Donald Sull debunks 5 of the most pernicious myths about how to implement strategy and replaces them with a more accurate perspective that will help managers effectively execute strategy.
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