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Strategy execution: Robert Kaplan, Dubai, 2014


Strategy Leaders Forum 2014

In the last day of the Strategy Leaders Forum, Dr. Robert Kaplan delivered a Balanced Scorecard Masterclass. He is Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School and a former Dean of the Graduate School of Industrial Administration, Carnegie-Mellon University.The main topics covered in the presentation:
  • Leading change;
  • Strategy execution system;
  • Managing risks.
Robert Kaplan suggests that the first priority for CEOs should be leadership and strategy execution, while following a roadmap for strategic change. On the one hand, he directly links strategy execution to leading change, and on the other hand, he underlines that complacency is what prevents CEOs from leading change. In terms of barriers to change, he mentions that the lack of strategic directions, the lack of employee involvement and inadequate or flawed communication represent the main impediments.

Strategy Leaders Forum 2014

Source: Robert Kaplan, Strategy Leaders Forum, 2014.

Connecting the idea of change with leadership, he cites Jack Welch who said to “Change before you have to”. Leadership is not self-sufficient. Businesses need management tools to implement the vision, highlighting that inspirational leadership and effective management must work in harmony.

For the strategy execution system, Robert Kaplan exposed the Kaplan-Norton six-stage closed loop management system for strategy execution, as mentioned below:

  1. Develop the strategy;
  2. Translate the strategy;
  3. Align the organization;
  4. Plan operations
  5. Monitor and learn;
  6. Test and adapt.

Robert Kaplan also emphasized the importance of differentiating risk management from strategy management. Risk management focuses on uncertainties that could impair mission and strategic objectives. The three different risk management approaches that he presented are:

  • Preventable;
  • Strategy execution risks;
  • External risks.

Strategy Leaders Forum 2014

Source: Robert Kaplan, Strategy Leaders Forum, 2014.

Image source:

  • Kaplan, R. (2014, April). Balanced Scorecard Masterclass. Presentation conducted at the Strategy Leaders Forum, Dubai, UAE.
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