CHAPTER 6

Too Many Projects

by Rose Hollister and Michael D. Watkins

If “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do,” as Michael Porter famously said in a seminal HBR article, then the essence of execution is truly not doing it. That sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly hard for organizations to kill existing initiatives, even when they don’t align with new strategies. Instead, leaders keep layering on initiatives, which can lead to severe overload at levels below the executive team.

Sometimes leaders are unaware of all the initiatives underway and their impact on the organization. In other cases organizational politics conspires to let initiatives continue long after they should have run their course. Either way, overload can result ...

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