We all know that strategy is worthless unless implemented. More often than not, strategy is rarely implemented comprehensively, consistently or at all. Which is why Strategy has such a bad name!
Intellectually we know we need it – all the books say we do – all the gurus say we do – in fact our own logic says we should.
So then what happens? Why do strategies fail?
In my experience these are a few of the reasons I have seen great strategic ideas and plans fail in implementation.
- Reactive vs Responsive. The executive team including the CEO are all “gung ho” – they get together for a 2 day indaba and brainstorm and get all excited and pound the table – this is it! We can do this! As soon as they leave the room, the first thing they do is against the strategy they have just agreed! They contradict their own plan – the excuse – it’s an operational issue! We have to this now… !!They immediately become reactive and the entire big plan and thinking goes out the window – and they just don’t get round to again.
- Corporate politics! “Wow, this is amazing!” They all sit in the room and agree, but as soon as the executives leave – they start planning on how to sabotage it and others – all in the game of corporate politics.
It’s not often but more often than we’d like to believe. It’s childish and defeats the bigger plan – but many of us can be rather short sighted when it comes to the game of corporate politics and getting ahead! We do it at the detriment of others and of the business.
- Strategy bears no resemblance to the reality on the ground. It is built in isolation of the competitive, operational and macro economic realities. It’s what we in the business call – Pipe Dreams with no idea how the pipe well ever be built from here to there!
- The Executives never include the team that is actually going to have to implement the strategy in the discussions or the agreements. The team has no idea why, what the real thinking was behind the big plan and they don’t buy into it. Not because it’s a bad plan – but for that basic human challenge – “I wasn’t part of the process so why should I do it? It’s not part of my KPI’s so nothing has really changed for me” – so they sabotage it.
- The implementation team is part of the discussion – But DON’T SAY A WORD. They are too scared of disagreeing with the executive management. They are too scared to put their hand up and say – “Hey, it doesn’t work like this on the ground.” Or even worse – they don’t want to take responsibility for delivering it lest it go bad – that way they can blame someone else – executive management!
- It’s just a bad plan!
Implementing Strategy takes focus, it requires commitment and it means we will suffer some pain somewhere in the short term to make the change that is required for the long term. It requires solid integrated thinking from top to bottom – with clear implementation plans.
Commitment, focus and will – if you don’t have the will – don’t bother – you may as well keep doing what you doing and don’t expect a different result.
Strategy needs to be a living breathing plan – be prepared to amend it as it goes along – NOT randomly but as a consequence of key impacts. Allow it to evolve and gain a momentum of its own.
As CEO’s we simply need to guide the strategy make sure it stays on the right path and then allow it to grow bigger than our imagination.