My team evaluated a social media strategy for a initiative-rich but communication-shy client in the retail space (my teammates posted their insights here, here, and here). The final presentation was met with signs of gratitude from the client for framing a communication problem they knew was there, but were hesitant to pursue. However, the finale also generated some fairly heated discussion on when and how to act.

In consulting, the ultimate world of hit-and-run, you violently collide with the client’s status quo, promptly exit the picture, and leave the client to regroup and collect the broken pieces, hoping your message was convincing enough to incite action.

A strategy without execution turns into a mere academic exercise, the essence of which the experiential learning at Haas is attempting to remedy with real life projects. But executing a strategy is difficult. In a study of 200 companies from the Times 1000, 97% of directors reported having a “strategic vision”, but only 33% reported achieving “significant strategic success”. (Source: Why do only one third of UK companies achieve strategic success? – I Cobbold & G Lawrie, 2GC Ltd., May 2001.)

A natural tendency of large companies is to wait for the big roll-out, when all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. But social media is one area that will wait for no one. In our research, we found hundreds of web 2.0 platforms emerging and submerging daily. Something this fast-paced has to be a continuous, evolving, and monitored effort.

Yes, it is important to lay out a map of resources detailed initiatives. But equally as important it is to trim the low-hanging fruit, invest ahead in projects that take longer to upstart, and learn how to fail and improve. In a world where the time from mouth to print is mere milliseconds and the brand reputation depends on what’s printed, strategy implementation should follow speed suite.


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