Executing Strategy … for a change


There are lots of cases, exercises, & simulations dealing with making strategic decisions, but few that deal with execution. Since implementation is a major hurdle for achieving a successful strategy, this can leave an important gap in the traditional strategy course. Bill Judge created this simulation dealing with strategy execution of an organization-wide strategic change. The product, developed in partnership with Harvard Business Publishing, is a single-player, online simulation that can be played over the internet or in the classroom. The student plays the role of a change agent trying to convince other managers to adopt the proposed green strategy. There are social networks embedded among them that are only revealed as stakeholders are interviewed (one of the 18 “levers” in the game). They, in turn, convince others based on their social ties. The simulation allows you to “play” in four scenarios that alter the change agent’s power (CEO vs. R&D director) and urgency (an opportunity to expand vs. the risk of losing the firm’s largest customer). This is a good vehicle to introduce notions of power and influence, human capital, readiness for change, leadership challenges, dynamic capabilities, balancing financial and social imperatives, and the organization and environment interface. The cost of the simulation is nominal if you are playing it within an academic institution (about the cost of 4 HBS cases). If you would like to explore this further, please click here and check it out. You can check out how it works since there is a video and preview available. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, please email Bill Judge here.

Contributed by William Judge

2 thoughts on “Executing Strategy … for a change

  1. I have used this exercise in exec ed programs and for EMBA students. Senior managers are sometimes frustrated when the company is less responsive than they think it would be. For example, if they send a company-wide email before most employees are aware of the need for change, no one reads it and the change agent’s credibility goes down. This is a very important real-world lesson that many senior managers need to learn.

    A nice twist (for a longer class) is to have all students complete a single scenario (like low power + low urgency). Then, in class, have the students complete one of the other scenarios in teams. My experience is that this helps to transfer the learning and they work together to reason out why the different scenarios require distinct strategies.

  2. I’ve been using it regularly.

    We begin with theory: Leading organizational change, understanding power, using social networks. The students nod in agreement, and then I introduce the simulation. Then, thrown into a simulated organizational setting, they experience the inevitable distance between knowing something and putting it to use.

    I find simulations a very useful tool in beginning to bridge this gap (or at least demonstrating it).

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