Why Your Strategy May Fail

Do You Know Why Your Strategy May Fail?
Not all strategies lead to results…even the best laid plans may not yield the outcomes you hope for.   Yet, few executive teams spend the time required to identify and overcome strategic barriers to success.

Only 10 Percent of Strategies Get Fully Executed
How bad is it in the corporate world?   9-out-of-10 strategies fail to meet expectations.  According to research by IBM, only 10 percent of organizations manage to successfully implement their strategies on a consistent basis.  This is pretty shocking as well as worrisome.

What’s Going Wrong with Strategy Execution?
There are a number of reasons that corporate strategy execution fails to meet the mark.

  • Too Complex. Not least of which is the complexity of today’s marketplace. Large companies deal on a global level with multiple divisions producing a variety of offerings. It is increasingly difficult to get the right product or solution to the right customer at the right time at the right price.
  • Varied Buy-In. Strategic buy-in accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing strategies.  If employees aren’t actively involved in creating the strategy or if they don’t have a clear understanding of the organization’s plan for success and what it means for them, how can they help support it when the going gets tough?
  • Lack of Accountability. But perhaps the greatest fault lies in the lack of follow-through. Unless and until the workforce believes that the strategy matters, that it is committed to at the highest levels, and that there will be consequences for those who don’t support it, employees tend to go about their business as usual.
  • Culture or Talent Misalignment. Even companies with clear and believable strategies can be thwarted at execution time by misaligned culture or talent.  Why?  Because strategies must go through culture and people to be successfully implemented.  Winning strategies are implementable in your unique culture with your people.
  • Conflicting Performance Measures. A company is only as strong as the sum of its parts.  If sales is at odds with marketing or product development, or if multiple business units are competing for the same customers or resources, or if teams are striving for conflicting outcomes, overall success will be diluted.  Make sure your success metrics align across regions, functions, business units and teams if your strategy needs synergy to succeed.

Three Steps to Decrease Your Chances of Strategic Failure

#1.  Develop a Plan That Has a Few Crystal Clear Goals
Don’t try to cover too much at once. Focus in on the few critical strategies that will make the most difference in your business. We find the most successful leaders have two or three main strategic thrusts that rally the entire organization.

Any more than that, and focus gets weakened.  Whatever you choose to address, keep it simple.

#2.  Actively Involve Those Responsible for Executing the Strategy
Remember that it is not the executives who, ultimately, will implement your strategic plan. You need every employee to get behind the strategy and drive it toward success. This means that you have to involve them in creating it.

At a minimum you must present the plan and invite input in order to gain commitment. Share the reasons for the plan and inspire employees with your view of a successful outcome. Frequent, consistent, across-the-board messages and opportunities to discuss the strategy are the minimum required to begin to gain buy-in and commitment.

#3.  Create Accountability and Follow Through
Develop clear success metrics to track progress toward strategic goals. Be transparent as benchmarks are met or not. Show that you are serious about execution by holding employees accountable for results.

Recognize and reward those who work toward the end goals and have consequences for those who don’t. Meet on a regular basis to look at how well you are doing and what you could do better.

The Bottom Line
Winning strategies outline clear and compelling choices about where to play and what critical few actions to take. Strategic planning is the beginning, not the end.  If you keep it simple, actively involve your key stakeholders from the outset, and hold people accountable, you have a good chance of beating the odds.

To learn more about why your strategy may fail and how to beat the odds, download 7 Strategic Clarity Warning Signs to Pay Attention To

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