Creating a bright line between strategy design and strategy delivery

World Finance reports from the 2018 Project Management Institute Global Executive Council

January 23, 2019

The people that are responsible for developing a strategy aren’t typically the people who make it reality. There’s a disconnect between the executives who dream up the future of their organisation and the project managers who have to make that dream come true. Recognising this, the Project Management Institute is leading Brightline: a coalition that creates resources to help executives bridge the gap between strategy design and delivery. Cindy W Anderson from PMI explains Brightline’s vision and work.

The next video in this series is about how digital transformation is disrupting project management, or you can watch the full Project Management Institute playlist.

Cindy W Anderson: Project management is sometimes considered an ‘accidental profession’ – people fall into it when they realise that they have a knack for getting things done.

We sometimes talk about project managers as the people who make dreams come true. They turn ideas into reality. And that’s not really very easy. So, consider some of the research that we’ve done in the past, which finds that every 20 seconds, $1m globally is wasted due to poor project performance. Which means that every day it’s $5bn, and every year it’s $2trn of economic value that’s wasted because projects aren’t being completed successfully.

The people that are responsible for developing a strategy, developing that set of initiatives that are going to transform an organisation. They’re strategy people that sit around tables and come up with these great ideas and these beautiful strategies: they typically aren’t responsible for the delivering on those strategies. And that’s why we find that only one in 10 organisations is able to complete all of their strategic initiatives successfully.

The line right now between strategy design and strategy delivery is blurry. And we want to make it a bright line. And that’s why we developed the Brightline Initiative.

The Brightline Initiative is really targeted towards senior executives, typically in the strategy space.

We think the more that those executives understand that they’re accountable to deliver what they’ve promised; to actually have the capability in the organisation to make those dreams come true: we think that waste is going to go down dramatically.

So, we believe that once executives know they’re accountable, that that’s the first step. Right now that gap between strategy design and delivery is more like a chasm.

They think it’s going to happen by magic somehow. People have developed strategies over time, and over time they just don’t get delivered successfully. So we’re trying to raise awareness first of all. Making sure that these executives – especially the chief strategy officers – understand that they do have accountability. Even if they’re not the people who deliver it, they still need to know that their organisation has the capability to deliver. And they have to make that connection. Develop that bright line between strategy design and delivery.

And at that point, the project management function – and it’s called many things in different organisations, but it’s all the people who turn ideas into reality, it’s all the people who are developing the products and delivering the value that customers want – but at that point, that function can take over, and they actually deliver the strategy, and the connection is really that bright line between strategy design and strategy delivery.