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Theresa Welbourne
  Theresa Welbourne

Leaders Talk about Executing Strategy

11/28/2005 --

Professor Theresa Welbourne's Leadership Pulse study shows how business leaders can minimize obstacles in executing business strategies.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Minimize obstacles that get in the way of executing a strategy—that's the focus of a recent Leadership Pulse study, a long-term research study on organizational growth and change conducted by Theresa Welbourne, adjunct professor of executive education at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

More than 300 executives, representing a broad range of industries from small and large businesses, were asked to describe the type of strategy (same tactics/same strategy, same tactics/new strategy, new tactics/same strategy and new tactics/new strategy) and rate their probability of success in executing those strategies.

The results showed that people employing same tactics and same strategies ("repeat performers") reported the highest probability of success. However, it is noted that the lowest number of firms studied reported using same strategy/tactics.

Welbourne asked the executives to rate 15 variables that may impede or derail the business strategy. A company's past and habits ranked first, cited by 35 percent of the respondents. Economic climate and company budget ranked second (29 percent) and company culture was third (23 percent).

After data collection, a factor analysis was conducted to bundle the 15 variables into three groups: external environment, leadership and process. By examining these factors, it was learned which of the three potential barriers to strategic execution were most problematic for each type of the four strategies.

The study focused on the leadership factor and suggested that an offensive strategy, when executed properly, would provide a company with a competitive advantage in the changing business environment. The key, Welbourne said, is real-time listening to customers, employees, investors and suppliers, which affords a company the opportunity to know what's going on before the competition does.

An offensive strategy would require anticipating barriers and creating a proactive way to maneuver around them, she said. Another result was respondents' considerations of alignment, which would entail creating a clear strategy, adding a specific plan, communicating the plan and rewarding employees for executing the plan.

The Web-based Leadership Pulse study is conducted every two months on topics of strategic importance to business leaders. It measures the effects of key resources and confidence levels on overall business growth and performance. The goal is to learn from the data, create a dialogue around the subjects studied, and help leaders continually learn and bring value to their organizations.

For more information or to participate in the Leadership Pulse survey, contact Welbourne or the eePulse research team at (734) 996-2321 or visit or

Written by Sally Sztrecska

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone: (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847