Overcoming Blockages In Strategy Execution: Lessons From Agile Managers

Robert C. Ford and Misty L. Loughry

Citation:Ford, R.C. & Loughry, M.L.,(2021). Overcoming blockages in strategy execution: Lessons from agile managers. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 86(2),54-63;


Managers’ attempts to implement their organization’s strategy often meet with challenges that block the execution as planned and these blockages are not always obvious. This paper presents seven lessons from agile software development that managers can use to avoid and overcome blockages in strategy execution. They are: 1) Define and communicate an agile culture. 2) Define and communicate an end goal with measures and deadlines. 3) Break the end goal into multiple projects with specific objectives and short deadlines and assign them to small teams. 4) Give project teams autonomy, but hold them responsible for achieving their objectives on time. 5) Hold frequent brief meetings to identify problems and coordinate across teams. 6) Frequently consult with the customer or end user. 7) Constantly monitor all teams’ progress and customer needs to look for blockages; pivot quickly when a change is needed to execute the strategic plan.

These seven lessons help managers quickly recognize when the path to strategy implementation is blocked and lead their teams to find alternatives and quickly pivot to new implementation plans. The process creates a culture that focuses on results yet empowers teams and employees to use their talents and creativity. As a result, the organization is focused and energized as it implements its strategy.


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