Strategy That Works

Strategy That Works, our new book on how winning companies close the strategy-to-execution gap

Based on new research, the book Strategy That Works reveals five practices for closing the strategy-to-execution gap used by today’s winning companies. Packed with tools executives can use for building these five practices into their organization, it is a powerful guide to connecting where enterprises aim to go and what they can accomplish.

Strategy That Works


Our new book "Strategy That Works"

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Winning companies don’t follow conventional wisdom.

They apply 5 acts of unconventional leadership that allow them to close the strategy-to-execution gap.

  • Commit to an identity
  • Translate the strategic into the everyday
  • Put your culture to work
  • Cut costs to grow stronger
  • Shape your future
Commit to an identity

Commit to an identity

Conventional wisdom might lead a company to focus on growth, looking for revenue wherever it seems most available. But the unconventional companies we have studied commit to an identity. They focus their efforts on developing a solid value proposition and building distinctive capabilities that will last for the long term. Then they are flexible within that context, moving rapidly into new competitive arenas at times, but only into those where their identity makes them well-equipped to win.

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Translate the strategic into the everyday

Translate the strategic into the everyday

Many business people assume that the best way to build capabilities is to adopt the best practices of an industry or develop functional excellence, but companies with a strategy that works believe otherwise. They translate the strategic into the everyday. They design and build their own bespoke capabilities that set them apart from other companies and allow them to live their identity. Then they bring those capabilities to scale in their own distinctive ways.

Tool to help you apply this act: Peeling the onion templates

This set of templates will lead you through the key questions you need to answer to ensure that the capabilities system you design will enable your strategy.

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Put your culture to work

Put your culture to work

A business leader might seek to solve performance problems by making structural changes: reworking the org chart and rethinking incentives. The culture of the enterprise, if considered at all, is often seen as a hindrance. But companies that close the strategy-to-execution gap do it differently. They put their culture to work. They recognize the power of the ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior in their company, and they tap that power to execute their strategy and foster performance.

Cut costs to grow stronger

Cut costs to grow stronger

A more conventional company might try to reduce costs across the board by going lean everywhere and spreading investments across a wide range of promising opportunities. But the unconventional companies we studied cut costs to grow stronger. They marshal their resources in a more strategic way, doubling down on the few capabilities that matter most to their long-term success and pruning back to the minimum everything else.

Fit for Growth Index profiler

This profiler will help you assess how good your company is at cutting costs to grow stronger and see how it compares to its peers.


Shape your future

Shape your future

Finally, companies that make their strategy work are not trying to become agile. They don’t respond to external change as rapidly as possible. Instead, they shape their future by creating the change they want to see. They use their distinctive edge to gain privileged access to customers and do mergers and acquisitions to recreate their business environment on their own terms.

Evolution of the consumer products industry

This graphic shows how supercompetitors in the CPG industry have used acquisitions and divestitures to shape their industry.

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Growth strategies

The semiconductor industry: A capabilities perspective
For several decades, the semiconductor industry has been the backbone of technological progress. However this growth trajectory has its natural limits. This fact, combined with changing demands for semiconductors, is creating the need for major transformation in the industry. But what will this look like?
The future of the steel industry
The steel industry has been confronted with dramatic changes over the last few years and is facing several disruptive factors in the future. This short video by PwC’s Strategy& looks at main industry trends and how steel executives should approach them — outlining winning ways to play of the future and what it takes to excel at those.
Chemicals industry
As the marketplace shifts, chemicals companies need to sharpen how they provide value for customers, and assess their capabilities and the best way to differentiate from competitors. Companies that do this analysis and then mold their strategies to their differentiating capabilities will find that disruptions can catalyze sustainable, profitable growth.
Semiconductor industry
From the mainframe to the mini to the PC to the smartphone, our computing devices just keep getting smaller, faster, and cheaper. Each of these shifts depended on advances in semiconductor technology and the ongoing impact of Moore’s Law, as individual transistors gave way to the integrated circuit, and then the sophisticated system on a chip.
Auto industry growth strategies
In today’s complex environment, each auto company must be very clear about how it plans to add value for its particular set of customers, and must determine which distinctive capabilities will allow them to deliver on this value proposition better than anyone else and create a clear right to win.

Strategy That Works

Find out in 5 minutes whether your company has a strategy that works. This short survey will help diagnose whether your organization is positioned to successfully close the strategy-to-execution gap.

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Featured research

We studied 14 iconic companies to learn what they do to close the strategy-to-execution gap – how they create value for customers, what few capabilities allow them to do so in a way that others cannot, and what products and services thrive in their unique capabilities system. Here are some of the companies we researched:

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