Strengthening Strategy Execution at a Canadian National Bank


  • Top Canada national bank facing challenges around development and execution of strategy
  • New top leader and several new players on senior team
  • No defined longer term strategy—only annual profit plan
  • Performance OK, but relatively slow growth rate
  • Declared desire to grow the business, but low risk-taking environment leading to cost management vs. revenue growth thrust
  • Competitors making moves in an uncertain marketplace
  • No processes for making trade-off decisions and managing execution through the organization
  • Culture of good personal relationships and avoidance of conflict


  • Engaged first two levels of management in a strategy development process
  • Developed a strategic roadmap of priority initiatives to manage execution
  • Created a “strategic execution framework” including three integrated execution teams—Management Team, Impact Committee and larger Leadership Forum
  • Defined role of Impact Committee, made up of major strategic initiative owners, to recommend resource allocation decisions and develop comprehensive change management architecture
  • Designed Management Team development approach including quarterly retreats, leadership style profiles, direct feedback mechanisms
  • Established operating principles to define desired behaviors
  • Tied leadership succession and development planning process to strategic execution and business needs


  • Strategy adopted and supported by top firm leadership
  • Strong short-term performance
  • Early success in meeting more aggressive growth targets
  • Increase in new product introduction rate
  • Organization-wide commitment to implementing new customer value proposition
  • Effective resource allocation trade-off decisions made in tough operating environment
  • New two-year IT project planning system put in place
  • Significantly improved alliances built with corporate support functions
  • Reported changes in speed of decision-making and ability to raise and address conflicts
  • Regular feedback used to assess individual and team performance against business objectives