Promise-Based Execution

Build Execution Leadership Excellence to succesfully execute your strategy

This playbook is about how you can improve your Strategy Execution by tapping into the power of promises.
– why not start improving today.

Based on 30 years of experience.
Promise-Based Execution Book

How to Engage Your People in Strategy Execution and Leverage the Power of Promises to Deliver Great Results

Research by Harvard Business Review shows that poor execution robs companies of 40–60% of their strategic potential. It is an alarming failure rate, and the need to execute strategy properly has only increased in today’s fast-paced and unpredictable business environment.

What is the Power of Promises all about?

In this book, the authors challenge conventional approaches – relying primarily on top-down mandates and implementation of strategic initiatives – and advocates for a new approach called Promise-Based Execution (PBE) that focuses on the commitments that people make to each other to achieve specific goals. It is based on the idea that people are more likely to follow through on their commitments when they have a personal stake in the outcome – when we make a promise, we put ourselves on the line or what the authors call “The Emotional Power of Promises”. Engaging people in Strategy Execution requires Execution leadership at all levels. This book provides practical steps for leaders to apply the PBE model and develop the skills required.

At its core, PBE is about building reliability and trust through ownership and personal accountability. It is about creating a culture in which all employees deliver on their promises and feel motivated to do whatever it takes.

Just think about what that kind of company culture could do to your success in strategy execution.

What our readers say about the book

About the book

The two parts

Part One

The WHY and the WHAT

Part One is mainly about the thoughts, science and ideas behind our approach. You will hear about ‘people dynamics’ and learn about ‘friction’ from a long-dead Prussian general and master strategist. And you will find yourself in the company of some really bad guys and hear the good news that humans are masters of collaboration. You will also learn about the psychology behind the power of promises.

We explain that you need to add what we call “Bottom-Up Engagement” to the traditional way of implementing strategy via projects, which is the main reason why 40-60% of all strategies are never delivering the results expected. We describe why promises – defined as a combination of accountability and a strong sense of ownership – develop exactly that needed Bottom-Up Engagement. This part of the book also explains the background to our approach to Strategy Execution, which we call “Promise-Based Execution”, and the important people dynamics that underpin it. These chapters explain the general WHY and the overall WHAT.

Experienced managers will no doubt recognize some of the elements of our approach, and we quite consciously quote other experts and thinkers who have influenced our thinking. The magic happens when you combine all of these findings and integrate them into your workflow and organization, as we describe in Part Two.


Part Two


Now you know why you need to execute strategy differently. The second part of the book teaches how to do just that by explaining the general Promise-Based Execution Model and the seven guiding principles behind it.

You will learn the HOW as we delve deeper into Promise-Based Execution (PBE) and how to apply the framework and the Execution Leadership that will make it fly. How to create a culture of execution and achievements based on promises. You will hear about drumbeats and GamePlans, handshakes and fundamental Execution Leadership Practices.

Only then will you be introduced to the toolkit – the framework and the steps you need to take in the right order – plus a rundown of what could go wrong and how to fix it. We describe how to deploy PBE in an organization – how to get started and a step-by-step approach that we have used in numerous companies we have worked with over the last many years.

It will still take you and your leadership skills to make it all soar to new heights, though. We can’t do that bit for you, but by this stage of the book, you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to do and how.


Download two chapters for free

This playbook is about how you can improve your Strategy Execution by tapping into the Power of Promises – why not start improving today.

For whom it is written

If you already know how to draw up a strategy and gain the support of the whole of your organization to execute it successfully every time, then this book probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you are one of the vast majority of managers at all levels who finds this difficult, then it is written very much with you in mind. Most strategies are never implemented as intended. That is the truth of the matter. Usually, it isn’t because the strategy is wrong – it is the execution that is poor.

Strategic execution book

You will learn how to:

  • $Setting a direction that is clear, meaningful and relevant to everyone.
  • $Turning a group ambition into personal ownership.
  • $Facilitating cross functional collaboration to reduce the organizational friction in execution.
  • $Motivating people and holding them accountable for delivering results - based on the power of promise.
  • $Building a strong execution culture that can ensure success in times of uncertainty.

About the authors

Behind the scene

Claus Maron

Claus Maron

With more than 30 years of consulting experience, Claus is a seasoned expert in Strategic Execution. He has a background in leading management consultancies like Accenture, Right Management, Siar Bossard and Kjaer & Kjerulf, combined with more than 10 years in top management positions. Claus is also a frequent speaker and writer of blogs and articles on Strategy & Execution.

Niels Beck

Niels Beck

Niels has more than 25 years of leadership experience in the fast-growing international technology company SimCorp. He has worked as the CEO of subsidiaries in London and Sydney, SVP for Investor Relations, HR and Strategy Execution. For the last decade, he has been an Executive Advisor to organizations and managers on strategic business development and Execution Leadership.

Susanne Sayers

Susanne Sayers

Susanne is a journalist and author with more than 30 years of experience. She has been a news editor for the Danish financial media Børsen and has co-written several books on leadership, digital transformation and sustainability, including Dreams & Details by Jim Hagemann Snabe and Mikael Trolle.

Claus and Niels are founding partners of Blue Note Consultants

Blue Note Consultants helps companies succeed with Strategy Execution by building Execution Leadership Excellence.

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Promise-Based Execution Book

Promise-Based Execution

Get the book now or download two chapters for free before deciding

40-60% of a company's strategic potential is lost due to poor execution, poor understanding of customer needs or company culture not supporting the ambitions.

Keynote Speech (workshops)

Strategy Execution during Uncertainty – the 3 Ps of Execution

We have entered a new world of disorder, where dealing with market turbulence and uncertainty has become fundamental for businesses to survive. Others use these conditions to thrive. What is it that distinguishes such companies when it comes to Strategy and execution? This speak will talk about three overall models of execution and what it will require from a execution leadership perspective by introducing an integrated approach for linking strategy with business execution and performance management.

Key words: VUCA world, 3 Execution models, Promise Based Execution, the changing role of the execution leader

Duration: 45-90 minutes optional.

The fundamental 4 gaps in Strategy Execution – and how to overcome them

Between 40-60% of a company’s strategic potential is lost due to poor execution. Why is that? what are the most typical pitfalls? and how can you overcome these effectively? In this talk, you will hear about the lessons learned from other companies and learn about the four fundamental leadership practices for succeeding with your strategy execution effort.

Key words: Typical gaps of strategy execution, Top-Down Governance vs Bottom-Up Engagement, The four fundamental execution leadership practices

Duration: 45-90 minutes, alternatively as seminar of 3 to 4 hours duration with interactive discussions in groups.

Promise Based Execution & the Four fundamental Execution Leadership Practices

Most companies primarily rely on a so-called “Top-Down Governance” model for strategy implementation. Research shows that this will often lead to installation of change but without a full realization of your strategic intent.  For your organization to fully live a strategy, you need to add Bottom-Up Engagement by making clear what are the contributions of your teams, managers and employees and build ownership and accountability. Learn more about how to do this via a proven approach called Promise Based Execution.

Key words: Strategy engagement, Promise Based Execution, Execution Leadership, Building personal ownership and accountability.

Duration: 45-90 minutes optional, alternatively as seminar of 3 to 4 hours duration with interactive discussions in groups.

What our customers say

Leaders perspectives


Global Thought Leadership

Blue Note Consultants and the authors cooperate with some of the World’s most influential thinkers on Strategy & Execution.

Dr. Rebecca Homkes

Dr. Rebecca Homkes, High-Growth Strategy Expert; Lecturer at LBS and Faculty at Duke University Corporate Education and Author of Several HBR Articles

Jeroen De Flander

Bestselling author, Global Expert on Strategy Execution; Key note Speaker and resident faculty member at TIAM and guest lecturer at IMD, London Business School, Essec and others.