Adriana Rejc Buhovac
Professor of Strategic Management
Your classes are full of useful tools for strategizing and developing businesses. What is the most important lesson you want to give to MBA students?
Formulating strategy is one thing, executing it throughout the entire organization, however, is the hard part. Unfortunately, most managers know far more about developing strategies than about making them happen. Most business schools around the world teach their students and executives about schools of thought that have very little to do with making strategies work. Implementing strategy is about overcoming the various organizational and ‘political’ obstacles, starting with preventing internal resistance to change, coping with existing power structures, adequately sharing information between individuals and business units responsible for strategy execution, ensuring feelings of ‘ownership’ of execution plans, etc. My first lesson to the MBA students is to think about implementing the strategy in the early phases of developing strategies—it all starts with who should participate in the strategy development process.
How would you describe your work with companies? How and where do you help them?
In my professional career, I have worked with some of the greatest minds in the strategy development process. Learning from Marc J. Epstein (Harvard Business School, Stanford Business School, Rice University) and Gavin Lawrie (2GC Active Management), I have acquired know-how on developing strategies effectively, cascading them throughout the organization, and implementing strategic and operational control. The Balanced Scorecard 3rd Generation methodology that I most commonly use when working on strategy development is efficient, logical and leads to effective execution. My role is to facilitate innovative thinking and consensus building within a carefully selected, large enough group of strategists—instead of consulting what companies should do, I enable participants to develop their own strategies. I help them properly identify key strategic issues (competitive position, relative strengths and weaknesses, key opportunities and threats), articulate a clear vision of success (Destination Statement) and develop a logical strategy to achieve it (Strategy Map). The structured and systematic process encompasses development of performance measures and targets, too, and most important, cascading strategies to lower hierarchical levels.
What is the biggest mistake companies do when they are developing their strategies?
There is so much knowledge in companies—one of the biggest mistakes is to rely on consulting services without strongly integrating internal knowledge and experiences: managers, experts, innovators, opinion leaders. Nobody understands problems and key development issues better than employees themselves do. Think carefully about who should take part in the strategy development process—the goal is to make strategy work rather than produce a document nobody will use.
How would you describe a “strategic mindset”?
Strategy is about ‘how’: how a company is going to compete, how it is going to create value and get to keep some of it, how it will achieve high levels of performance, or how it will create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant. A strategic mindset is exactly that: understanding and being able to articulate a logical strategic path from A to B.
What is your message to the future MBA candidates?
The focus of my FELU MBA Strategic Management course is to train you, not to teach you. To use hands-on approach to developing strategies, not to discuss theory. To challenge you with implementation issues, not with strategy development basics. You will be part of a unique experience that no other business school provides.
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