Strategy execution is notoriously hard. All too often, even companies with the most thoughtful, and well-crafted strategies run into significant difficulties with execution. In our experience, the primary reason for these stumbles is a failure to balance inherent tensions that characterize any major execution effort — and instead unduly favor one position versus another. Successful strategy execution calls for skillful orchestration of sometimes opposing forces and competing needs. 

This Executive Insights looks at four core tensions that leaders need to balance. 

  1. An inspiring end-state versus challenging targets
  2. Top-down control versus democratization of change
  3. Capability development versus pressure for results
  4. Creativity versus discipline