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The key role a Strategy Realization Office can play in managing your strategy

As your strategic planning cycle nears its end, the same challenges face your organization - but could a Strategy Realization Office play a role in success?

Written by: James Milsom, Head of Marketing


Developing actionable strategies to leverage a company's potential is critical; most enterprises have become adept at this role. The biggest challenge is the ability to execute them.

A significant percentage of organizations struggle to implement good strategies, consequently failing to attain established goals.

Businesses today operate in a highly dynamic environment where consumer demands shift rapidly, and technological advancements can be hard to keep up with.

Therefore, companies must develop growth-oriented and adaptive plans that fit into disruptive settings.

They have to innovate fast and execute fasters.

The strategic realization office helps the C-suite align chosen projects and operational efforts with the organization's strategic objectives.

In this overview, we'll summarize the Strategy Realization Office and the role it can play in managing your strategy more effectively, covering:


What Is An SRO?

The Strategy Realization Office (SRO) - sometimes called the strategy office or strategy realization - focuses on the planning, execution, and tracking of a strategy, its portfolio, programs, and projects.

Gartner defines the Strategy Realization Office as:

"A dynamic structure that may or may not have a hierarchical alignment within the organization...likely to be driven by a C-level executive or a change advocate."

Adding that its role is to join the worlds of the 'what' and 'how, finding:

"common ground between bold, high-level goals and nitty-gritty, ground-level realities".

Leverage a Strategy Realization Office to Execute the Strategy, 17 June 2020, Joanne Kopcho et. al.


At its simplest, the SRO is therefore in place to help provide strategic alignment between the strategic plan and the efforts to deliver the goals of that plan.

Typically owned by the Chief Strategy Officer, supporting roles go to 'Heads' such as those in Strategy, Lean, and Innovation, who are tasked with filling the gap between a strategy and its delivery. 

Sometimes, an SRO is classified as a digitally advanced enterprise PMO (Project Management Office) designed to drive successful strategy execution.

In both instances, the SRO is key `to closing your strategy-to-execution gap.


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How Does An SRO Help With Change Management?

In the time of industry 4.0, our organizations must prioritize agility. An agile enterprise can adjust rapidly with minimal disruptions when it identifies opportunities it can't afford to let go of. And the SRO provides the institution where pivots in strategy can take shape and be implemented effectively.

Our strategic portfolios contain many options, some more feasible than others, but are the fruit of countless hours of planning and many more conversations about how to reshape these.

The SRO brings CSOs and Heads of Strategy (and Lean) together with Business Managers, Factory Managers, and other key staff, giving a place where strategy and operations can move together, in lockstep, towards the current and in the case of a pivot, new strategic plan.  

With that, there is a considerable change to consider, and the communication of a new direction can have a domino effect - which the SRO seeks to support. 



The SRO helps you hit the mark when trying to close your strategy-to-execution gap


How Is an SRO Different From PMO?

In many instances, confusion arises between SRO and PMO roles in an organization. Although they both add value to strategic management, they are slightly different.

Your Project / Portfolio Management Office (PMO) will focus on executing projects, which naturally means their attention is towards operational, tactical efforts. When an organization fully embraces the idea of Lean / Operational Excellence, the PMO is at the heart of every continuous improvement success.

The PMO is about driving your company to implement projects properly and efficiently, supporting Project Managers in sharing resources, and best practices, coaching, and monitoring compliance with project and process standards.

The Project Management Institute defines the PMO as:

"a management structure that standardizes the project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques."

A Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), 2013


On the other hand, an SRO emphasizes implementing the right projects.

Where business justification is PMO's goal, SRO serves strategic alignment needs.

Another distinction is that PMO focuses on deliverables. It looks at how accurately projects meet deadlines and budgets. Strategy realization focuses on creating value aligned with a strategic direction. 


Why Is An SRO Needed?

Organizational change is the leading reason enterprises invest in strategy realization. Industry 4.0 has undoubtedly increased the rate of new market entrants and shifting customer expectations - so as the market speeds up, so must our ability to execute plans.

This era creates a constant state of flux. For this reason, the agile mindset has become integral to survival.

Organizations are required to craft transformation programs to match the adaptive outlook that is every company's reality. And, in these times, the SRO is crucial.

The SRO is there to help your organization:

  • Drive inclusion in the strategy formulation and goal-setting processes
  • Create clarity of direction through internal communication of plans
  • Facilitate strategic alignment - meaning the joining of employees' work and performance management to strategic initiatives.
  • Monitor strategic programs, foster collaboration and communication, and identify risks of strategy execution failure.
  • Evaluate and analyze the performance of portfolios, proving the actual value delivered in an easy-to-prove manner.
  • Guide key stakeholders on the importance of communicating the plan, goals, results, and why it all matters to everyone - seek a 360 feedback loop on the strategic plan, and crowdsource new ideas.

With the SRO in place, you can embrace the high-stakes, fast-paced change that comes your organization's way, using the office to orchestrate and collaborate for strategy execution success.


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What Are The Benefits and Challenges Of An SRO?

Between 60%-90% of organizations fail to execute strategies successfully, resulting in lost value and opportunities.

Yet, implementing a strategic realization office increases the chances of achieving your strategic objectives. And that's just the beginning of the benefits when it comes to an SRO, which includes:

  • Focus
    The SRO adds reinforcements to your efforts to roll out a strategic plan, helping you to bring a further focus to everyone's efforts.

  • Commitment
    HBR reports that 71% of employees in companies who poorly executed their strategies are second-guessing decisions - the SRO will support in driving up commitment to direction, because...

  • Collaboration
    The SRO is there to help everyone collaborate and make decisions that were once seemingly impossible possible - by giving structure, frameworks, and neutrality.

  • Data
    The SRO places data at the heart of everything, and so, naturally will lead to decisions based on reality, not narrative.

And as for the challenges associated with running an SRO:

  • Confusion
    The misunderstanding of the SRO and its role in supporting the organization to execute its strategy can be damaging and seen as a disruptor, not a connector of strategy to operations.
  • Readiness
    A crucial question to ask yourself is whether you need an SRO. If your results are robust and objectives are executed accordingly, the SRO could be unnecessary. However, if you repeatedly have missed targets, confused employees, and must change direction meaningfully, the SRO is a viable option.

  • Buy-In
    The SRO can only be as successful as those who support it - without key stakeholders' buy-in, the SRO will be seen as another layer of bureaucracy destined to be misunderstood.


Closing Thoughts

When properly established and applied, a Strategy Realization Office can be the key to your organization delivering its strategic objectives.

It streamlines strategy execution by incorporating several governance elements, raises the profile, understanding, and buy-in of the strategy, and offers an important connection between the strategy office and the PMO.

It follows that organizations must leverage available resources, techniques, and technologies to create a successful SRO.

Here at i-nexus, we recommend that our eBook, the key to strategy execution, sit atop your list as the year progresses.

And remember, while the SRO can play a key role in managing your strategy, the journey to creating one starts with knowledge.

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Learn More About Strategy Execution

Click here to learn more about strategy execution, or take a look at these content recommendations:

  • Read Our Strategic Portfolio Management 101: Strategic Portfolio Management is becoming increasingly popular as more businesses look to optimize and improve their time to market, address their CAPEX, achieve their ESG targets, and realize their strategic goals - so what does it all mean?
  • The Key To Strategy Execution: Read our eBook to help you with implementing a new strategic portfolio management plan, with advice on how to execute your plan successfully and avoid common mistakes.
  • Help Your Business Become Agile: Discover why an adaptive approach to strategic planning and execution begins with Operational Excellence.


About the author

James Milsom is Head of Marketing at i-nexus. James has wide-ranging experience in telecommunications, energy, education, and software markets.

As Head of Marketing, his drive is to raise awareness and understanding of the challenges facing enterprises in delivering strategic objectives and transformation amidst changing markets and the obstacles traditional tools and methods present leaders.

If you’d like to talk more about strategy execution, contact James at james.milsom@i-nexus.com or connect with him on LinkedIn for the latest insights.