Pfeffer, the importance of execution within an organization


A strategy with its feet firmly on the ground. The future of organizations certainly depends on their ability to look ahead, to make long-term plans; but no less on their ability to make these plans truly applicable, to work concretely on execution, starting on the here and now. The person who strongly believes in this is someone who has spent his professional life looking for the keys to how organizations work, and for the levers that move individuals within them: Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, one of the most influential contemporary thinkers in the field of management. Jeffrey Pfeffer, will be a guest at the SDA Bocconi HR Leaders’ Dialogues – a series of learning and working sessions that bring together Chief Human Resources and Human Capital Officers from the largest and most innovative organizations – with a speech whose title is forward-looking: “Sustainable, Digital, Valuable: Envisioning the Future of HR”.

And speaking of effective titles on the topic of feasibility throughout an organization's life, the SDA Bocconi executive program where Pfeffer is a lecturer is called “Getting things done” – turning a project into an actually doable task. It’s a simple concept, but it doesn’t always come true in real life. That’s why it’s essential to be clear on which key factors can lead you to carrying out a business objective successfully.

“Doing the right thing is important, which is where strategy comes in. But doing that thing well – execution – is what sets companies apart,” Pfeffer says. “Successful organizations understand the importance of implementation, not just strategy, and, moreover, recognize the crucial role of their people in this process.”

People, according to Pfeffer, are the keystone in any organization's architecture. Their thinking, their behavior, their relationships can support and grow the organizations themselves or decide their collapse. In the past few decades, Pfeffer has made important contributions to the international debate in the field of Human Resources Management, with numerous publications. His latest book also has a title that is an indictment of a certain – failed but unfortunately still widespread – way of understanding and managing human resources: Dying for a Paycheck. How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance.

This concept was also stressed in an interview given a few months ago: “Many, I dare say most, managers are remarkably unconnected to the evidence in front of them and the social science literature that would make them more effective in doing their jobs,” stated the professor. He also added: “What I would recommend to leaders would be: 1) become much more intellectually curious about the world of organizations and management; 2) read much more of the relevant research literature that will help you do your job better; and 3) try to practice evidence-based management – where decisions are based on facts, not on casual benchmarking or intuition.”

SDA Bocconi School of Management

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