I was discussing strategy implementation with a CEO and his leadership team earlier this week. It quickly became clear that their organisation didn’t have anyone focused on developing and overseeing the best way of turning their exciting and ambitious growth strategies into specific initiatives and actions on the ground.

In my book, The CEO’s Strategy Handbook, I interviewed Hugo Reissner, the former CEO of CBR, a $750 million German fashion retailer. Hugo quickly zeroed in on the need to have someone focusing on the connection between the high-level strategy and the detailed, daily operations. Here’s what Hugo said:

By training I am an architect. Between an architect and the craftsmen who will build the final structure that the architect designs is the building contractor. The building contractor – ‘Baumeister’ in German – has a pivotal role to play. In particular, he works out the best way to realise the architect’s vision on the ground.

This means that he must understand and appreciate the architect’s vision and concept, but must also be able to relate to and communicate with the specialists who will actually build the structure.

It is the same with strategy. There is a key role for someone to work with the agreed ideas and work out how they can best be delivered.

I strongly believe that Hugo is right. Most organisations don’t need an army of planners, but there should be someone working on behalf of the CEO who is focused on making the calls about priorities, sequencing and pace of the company’s critical strategic initiatives.

Who is your “Baumeister”?

© Stuart Cross 2012. All rights reserved.