4 Reasons Leaders Struggle with Corporate Strategy

a young boy struggles to life a heavy weight just as Leaders Struggle with Corporate Strategy

Leaders Struggle with Corporate Strategy
Are you surprised to hear that leaders struggle with corporate strategy?  Nobody said that putting together a meaningful strategy was easy. But who knew it would be so hard and that so few companies would be successful at designing and implementing coherent strategies across their company?

  • IBM reported that less than 10% of even well-formulated strategies are effectively executed.
  • Our own research tells us that employees believe their strategies are 50% less clear than the executive team.

A poor record indeed.

What’s Going Wrong with Corporate Strategy
Why do leaders struggle with corporate strategy? Our near thirty-year experience in working with companies who struggle to craft and then implement a strategy that works for them has taught us a few things.  Here are some of the common mistakes we have seen and what continues to keep many organizations from achieving high growth:

1. Assessing Your Organizational Strengths Too Subjectively
Perhaps you have always thought of your company as delivering consistently higher quality solutions. But you need to consider if you are actually better than the competition.  Do not let your subjective assessment of your strengths or weaknesses drive your strategy.

You need to be objective enough to know what truly sets you apart from the competition and where you fall short.  If you are not crystal clear about where you stand in the eyes of your target clients, you may be designing an ill-conceived strategy for growth.  Do the necessary work to know how you are perceived by those who matter most.

2. Trying to Replicate the Success of the Competition
You may be in the same sector as your major competitors, but you cannot necessarily get better results simply by copying what they are doing. Every company has uniqueness to their strategy, culture and talent.  To perform at your peak, focus on what sets you apart.

Identify what you can do better than the rest and ruthlessly focus your plan on that aspect of your business.  You are much more likely to succeed by setting your own path rather than copying that of your rivals.  Let your unique value proposition frame your unique strategy.

3. Defining the Business Wrong
A classic example of this strategic mistake is when Kodak decided it was in the film business without looking ahead at the implications of how the development of digital cameras would affect their industry. Many previously successful hardware companies today face the challenge of quickly moving to software, solutions and the cloud to stay afloat.

Be sure you know what value you provide to your customers and stay on top of innovations that could threaten your future business.

4. Not Having a Strategy At All
Not even having a strategy (or having one that does not meet the rigorous criteria of a workable strategy) is probably the worst mistake of any. Our organizational alignment research found strategic clarity accounts for up to 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.

For a strategy to be successful, all key stakeholders must understand the strategic direction and implications, believe the strategy will achieve the desired results and think it can be gracefully implemented in your unique culture, industry and circumstances.

The Bottom Line
The challenge when leaders struggle with corporate strategy can be overcome. The right strategy can set up your company to perform beyond just the sum of its parts.  It is worth the time and effort to design a plan of action that considers your unique value proposition, eliminates bias from your analysis, and defines a path that is selective, not all inclusive.

Do your leaders struggle with corporate strategy?   To check if your strategy is clear enough, download 7 Strategic Clarity Warning Signs to Pay Attention To

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