Strategy Execution

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


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