TOP CEO: Why poor execution is single biggest hindrance to business growth

March 4, 2018 3:10 pm

Executing a project is never as simple as formulating it. New projects have emerged in the GCC, creating high hopes for investors and businessmen in the region and abroad. However, plagued by bad track records on delivering on their promises, the GCC region needs to tackle execution challenges.

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The majority of C-suite executives consider poor execution as the single biggest hindrance to the growth of their industry. The foremost reason behind execution failure could differ from one industry to another. For example, a construction project could fail due to the lack of skilled resources, while an IT project could fail because of impractical scope. Moreover, defining when and why a project fails is also conflicting in this region.

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Top CEO Conference
The issue of the execution challenge will be addressed during the upcoming Top CEO Conference & Awards 2018,  that will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on April 10 and 11.

In collaboration with INSEAD, Top CEO Conference & Awards 2018, is brought to you by TRENDS magazine in a bid to celebrate a new brand of leadership and set the future agenda for all stakeholders.

Ensuring transparency
By teaming up with INSEAD Business School and the leading global auditor KPMG, Top CEO takes into consideration only the hard facts, such as growth, profitability, size and corporate governance, to compile the list of awardees from the publicly listed companies in the GCC.

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Explaining how the Top CEO rankings are different from other awards in the region, Professor Miguel Lobo, Director of the INSEAD Middle East Campus, told TRENDS: “The TOP CEO rankings are unique in the region for their focus on measurable and verifiable data. While this methodology has its strengths and weaknesses, it is a breath of fresh air and a much-needed complement to the numerous other awards based on subjective assessments.”

Startling facts
In a recent survey by PwC, 95 percent of respondents say their projects are running behind schedule, with an astounding 45 percent delayed by over six months. Likewise, 71 percent state that their projects are over-budgeted.

While fewer projects are being scaled back or cancelled due to funding issues, the number of projects being postponed is on the rise – 45 percent of respondents in this survey says projects were delayed, while 37 percent cite contractual disputes as a key external challenge to project delivery, second only to client decision making. On an average, 45 percent of IT projects are over-budgeted, seven percent run over time and 17 percent go so terribly, that they intimidate the very existence of the company.

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Some of the prominent projects that were stalled or delayed due to the bad execution include Saudi Landbridge Rail Link, the Subiya Causeway in Kuwait, Abu Dhabi’s Mafraq-Ghuweifat highway and the multi-billion dollar GCC Railway Project.

Challenges, opportunities and questions

Gradually leaders have started realizing the correlation between initiatives required to draft a strategy and the need of developing internal capabilities to executive it. They have realized that execution is not a people’s problem but a strategy problem. The need of the hour is to emphasize upon consistent clear communication between all stakeholders and to understand that the execution is an ongoing activity for the entire life of an organization.

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Some of the perennial questions that would be explored during the Top CEO conference include what fundamental changes should be made to achieve success in mega-projects? Can human capital make the culture leap? How have other countries in the region overcome the execution challenge? Are leaders trained to only plan, not execute? Are planning and execution interdependent?

For registration, visit



Alkesh Sharma
By Alkesh Sharma