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How to Implement Strategic Change and Improve Performance


Keith Appleton - Expert Author

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Improved business performance and increased profitability has always been the ‘Holy Grail’ for leaders and managers – even more so in the current economic climate.  Therefore, the book, 'Strategic Speed' offers a potential gold mine of advice and ideas, underpinned by real-life examples.

In ‘Strategic Speed’, internationally renowned business consultants Davis, Frechette and Boswell claim that business success is about who can create the most value smarter and faster than their competitors.  They explain that the majority of strategic initiatives fail even if supported by streamlined processes, detailed plans and adequate resources, with less than 30% being implemented on time.  They argue that to achieve strategic speed – implementing strategies quickly and successfully – that people must be the key ingredient.

Getting the best from your People and Increasing Performance

The authors outline how focusing on the three people factors of: clarity (understanding goals), unity (team work) and agility (adapting quickly to change) they will ultimately improve the organisation’s speed and performance.  This is quantified in their metrics for strategic speed: ‘reducing time to value and increased value over time.’ 

Strategic Management Tools & Techniques

To achieve strategic speed leaders must develop four critical practices. 

1.  Affirm Strategies- so everyone knows the aim. 

2.  Drive Initiatives- to ensure momentum and behavioural change.

3.  Manage Climate- to ensure motivation and teamwork

4.  Cultivate Experience- to capture learning. 

The authors highlight the management-trap of hopefully investing millions on new processes or technology to achieve competitive advantage.  Undermined however by neglecting to invest in their employee’s engagement and continuous learning to create business value by building long-term relationships with customers.

Business Success and Failures

The evidence is compelling, supported with eighteen case studies including global names such as Vodafone, Holiday Inn, Lehman Brothers and Enron, dissecting each success and failure.  This is underpinned by a comprehensive literature review; a survey of 343 senior leaders and the author’s 75 years combined consulting experience.  They then highlight the ten key differences between faster and slower companies and the seven factors for successful strategy implementation. 

Change Management and Self Development

Leaders and managers are encouraged to undertake self analysis using practical assessment tools to measure:

  • Leadership Profile
  • Team Dynamics
  • Successful Climate Management – developing a positive culture
  • Cultivating Workforce Experience
  • Effective Project Management
  • And of course, Strategic Speed.

These assessments help to identify barriers to progress and this interactive approach can easily be implemented within any business sector.  To quote Einstein “simple, without being simplified.”

Given my own experience of strategy development – lots of talking with little forward motion – this book provides valuable insight and best practice.  However, the best endorsement is that I’ve actually started to use the tools and techniques myself, rather than simply consign this book to my desk drawer.

Strategic Speed by Davis / Frechette / Boswell Published by Harvard Business Press

About the Author

Keith Appleton JP, BA(Hons), N.Dip.M, MInstLM has extensive experience within a managerial and strategic leadership role. This is underpinned by his academic background and membership of the UK Institute of Leadership & Management. Keith can be contacted at and you can follow him on Twitter at!/WritingRightNow More information on the published sources cited within the articles can be found at

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-04-02 17:01:28 in Employee Articles

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