Though business objectives and strategy are of crucial importance to an organization, even more so is their execution—usually found to be the weak spot when a particular strategy fails. Successful strategy implementation depends on an understanding of a number of factors: sources of power and influence within an organization; an organization’s political landscape; how to stimulate others to help achieve that strategy, amongst others.
However, perhaps most important is a manager’s understanding of his/her own sources of influence and how to develop skills within themselves to get things done. “Most successful managers experience an important transition when, after having been very successful as individual leaders of small teams, they are asked to lead functions, divisions or entire organizations,” says IESE Business School’s Professor Fabrizio Ferraro. Speaking to IEDP, Professor Fabrizio explained that he helps them make sense of this transition, and develop a framework to think about their own sources of influence on IESE’s Getting Things Done open program. He has also worked on a number of custom programs for organizations such as Enel, Lavazza and Oracle.
Ferraro teaches modules on strategy implementation, organizational change, and power and influence, and has also conducted research work on these topics. In an article titled The Emergence of Governance in an Open Source Community, published in the Academy of Management Journal in 2007, he studied authority and leadership in an open-source software community called Debian. Ferraro explained how findings on Debian can be applied to other types of firms and organizations.
“As more and more organizations are experimenting with their structures and introducing leadership systems less reliant on formal authority, managers are required to learn how to lead in less hierarchical environments, more similar to open source software communities than ninth century armies, or 1950’s bureaucracies. Blending democratic and bureaucratic principles is an important element of leadership in corporations with porous boundaries and dynamic structure. Therefore, in much of my teachings on an organization’s political landscape, understanding the views and interest of all stakeholders to a decision plays a critical role.”
Most of Ferraro’s research deals with large scale social change, and he has explored changes in the structures of various industries, such as the US film industry. In addition, he has also studied the emergence on novel institutions, such as the Global Reporting Initiative, a network-based organization that pioneered the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework.. “Of course, most managers are not necessarily dealing with large-scale change,” says Ferraro. “But what we learn from these extreme cases helps to distil a different view of what organizational change and strategy implementation is about, and I believe these ideas can help participants become better change agents.”
In the wake of a recent economic crisis and with many organizations revising their business objectives and strategies, change is rampant everywhere. As such, this is set to become a vital part of executive training at the leading business school. As put by IESE's Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, “doing the right thing is important, but doing it well is what sets companies apart. Success depends on execution–on the ability to get things done.”