Is Your Strategy Set Up to Succeed?
There is so much to consider as you craft, much less begin to execute, a corporate strategy. So much to consider and so many avoidable traps that cause strategies to fail. It can be daunting. However, done right, a successful strategic plan sets a company up to perform beyond just the sum of its parts.
The Top 6 Traps that Cause Strategies to Fail
Here are the top six traps that can cause strategies to fail. Be sure you don’t fall into one.
To be properly executed, the business strategy must be understood, believable, and implementable enough by all key stakeholders. If not, all the effort put into the planning stage will be for naught. Here is a shocking statistic: 49% of executives recently surveyed by Booz & Company said their companies had no strategic priorities.
How could so many high-level folks be unaware of the plans that should guide business decisions and secure the company’s future? The lesson is two-fold. First actively involve the whole team in the planning stage so they feel ownership of the plan. Second, communicate and cascade the strategy throughout the company early, clearly, and often.
We like using this simple exercise to uncover key obstacles and improve commitment levels. Before finalizing your strategy with the executive team, ask each person to raise their hand and show 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 fingers to show their levels of clarity, belief and commitment. “5 Fingers” means that they are 100% onboard. “1 Finger” means that they are sure the strategy will fail to deliver the desired results. “3 Fingers” means that they have serious concerns.
Then discuss what it would take to move everyone to “5 Fingers” and do so before you move forward.
Make sure you shape your corporate culture (the way people think, behave, and work at your company) to support the plan. Make sure your leaders are in sync with who they hire, fire, and promote.
For example, a strategy that tightens the screws of accountability, resources, and procedures would go against an organizational culture where employee independence and empowerment have been the norm. Similarly, a business strategy that suddenly promotes open vacation time, flex hours, and looser reporting could easily fail in an organization where the corporate values and assumptions that drive key business practices and behaviors are highly structured.
Employees we survey perceive that the organizational strategy is 50% less clear than their leaders believe. If people are consistently asking for more clarifying information before they act, or going in different directions, then you probably have a problem.
It is critical that existing business activities are managed well even as you encourage the new behaviors that support the future plans.
The Bottom Line
There are so many avoidable traps that cause strategies to fail. Strategy execution can seem overwhelming. Keep it ruthlessly simple and actively involve your key stakeholders along the way to set yourself up for success.
To learn more about how to sidestep the most common traps that cause strategies to fail, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy
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