Strategy Execution

May 27, 2009

COBRA: The X Factor in Strategy Execution

COBRA: The X Factor in Strategy Execution by Patrick D. Curran (my father) is a long overdue book on a critically important issue–optimizing strategy execution in a competitive global marketplace. COBRA was developed over 30 years of working with clients in the fast-moving consumer goods industry. Here are the key ideas:

* To prosper in turbulent times, you need a strategy that exploits current and emerging opportunities (an aligned strategy) and an organization that can execute the strategy (an aligned organization).
* More companies fail from faulty execution than from faulty strategy.
* When the organization cannot execute the strategy, three factors explain most of the problems most of the time: the structure, the system and the culture—what we call the 3 Points of Pressure.
* When not aligned, the 3 Point of Pressure form disruptive boundaries that block the flow of information, expertise and energy–execution suffers and strategy fails.
* COBRA (Crossing Organizational Boundaries Reinforcing Alignments) is a guided process for aligning the organization with the strategy, so that execution can be optimized.

3 Points of Pressure

1. The System is the great flywheel of execution.

The best performance management systems have five components working together like the fingers of a hand:
5 components of performance management systems: Strategy, Key Indicators, Tracking, Coaching, Review.
They are simple in design and disciplined in execution: operating within and across functional lines, focusing on both internal productivity and customer satisfaction. It is remarkable, how often the system can breakdown by becoming too complex, too centralized, or too slow.

2. The Structure can be-a roadblock or an expressway to market.

The following factors need to be aligned with the strategy to optimize execution:

* Formal Structure: Does it provide both economies of scale and customer satisfaction?
* Boundary Mgmt.: Are boundaries between functions/levels deliberately managed?
* Core Processes: Are core business processes efficient and effective?
* Bridging Structures: Are bridging structures used to deal with complex issues?

3. The Culture can foster passion and purpose or conflict and entitlement.
The following cultural factors need to be aligned with the strategy to optimize execution:

* Leadership
* Vision & Values
* Norms
* Core Competencies

This book is now available for review and purchase at  For further information on the author, Patrick D. Curran, please go to

Conquering Your Dream Killers

May 21, 2009

My challenge to you during this ‘down turn’ is to finally allow yourself the opportunity to simultaneously seize your career dream.  By hatching your own creative ideas and being fueled by the knowledge that you are in the driver’s seat of your own legacy creation, I guarantee that you will be on the winning end of reaching your dreams.  Your ‘X’ factor (your passion, innate motivation and personal interest) will set you apart from your competition as you eventually bring a unique solution or product to an over saturated market of ‘in the box’ thinkers. 

If I were to ask you what is holding you back from pursuing your ideal career path today, what would you tell me?  The majority of my clients tell me that their top three ‘dream killers’ are not taking the time to specify their ultimate career aspiration, a lack of confidence and structure and not being accountable to anyone other than themselves to pursue their dream.  Do any of these roadblocks resonate with you? Let’s break each one down and help you get out of your own way and get onto your chosen path. 

Specify Your Legacy Aspiration. 

First, in order to understand what it is you would ideally like to be doing in your business life, you must take the time to clarify what you most want to participate in creating for those in the present and in the future.  The answers to these lofty questions will undoubtedly uncover the areas in which you are uniquely gifted and in turn that you will be fully committed to further developing and actualizing into your legacy.  This is an opportune time to seek out the services of a coach, complete a self-assessment survey as well as holding informational interviews with those who are already working within your areas of interest. 

Slay your ‘inner naysayer’ with an action plan and confidence.

 The second most common roadblock that you might experience is your ‘inner naysayer’.  Being your own worst enemy is never more relevant than in this situation.  You must continually ward off all of the excuses and reasons why you ‘can’t’ pursue your dream and must stay stuck in your current situation. I would be naïve and irresponsible to suggest that this is a time for everyone to up and quit their current jobs.  The process of shifting your career trajectory towards a more ideal direction is one that is going to take time. After you have accomplished the first step as described above, the next step is to flesh out for yourself how you are going to go about making your intended transition.  It is imperative that you keep in mind that this is not going to be an overnight makeover. It will require careful planning and assessment and most importantly, patience with yourself and the inevitable setbacks.  Keep your eye on your end goal every day and the glory that you will relish in once you reach that end.

Make yourself accountable to someone other than yourself.

The final most common ‘dream killer’ is not being accountable to anyone other than you to actually pursue your career dream.  Even if my clients have been able to navigate their ways through the previous two roadblocks, this final piece of the pie is commonly insurmountable to achieve alone.  In order to ensure that you are responsible for taking progressive measures to reach your goals, you are going to need to hire a coach or identify a buddy whom you can check in with on a weekly basis and report your progress. Self-sabotage is no light contender and it is always around and ready to de-rail you from your intended focus and aspirations.  The best way to set up your buddy system is to find a person in your life that is also trying to reach a large goal, establish your ground rules and schedule a weekly telephone arrangement.  The key to a successful buddy system is not to be judgmental but to be as supportive as possible towards one another.  We all are hard enough on ourselves already and the focus of the sessions should be spent on celebrating the week’s victories and planning for the upcoming week’s intentions.

What do you think of my suggestions for conquering the three most common dream killers? 

May 20, 2009