Deep Dive: understanding the reasons that strategies fail

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In our last post, we explored the top 12 reasons why strategies fail. We hope you found that post helpful in identifying potential pitfalls in your planning. In this post, we’ll explore how to avoid those pitfalls and set your strategy up for success.


Lack of clear strategy

The starting point for any strategy is, of course, the strategy itself. But all too often, businesses don’t take the time to develop a clear and concise strategy that can be understood and supported by everyone in the organisation. Without this level of clarity, it’s impossible to set the right goals or priorities, or to allocate the necessary resources.


Poor communication

Once you have a clear strategy in place, it’s essential to communicate it effectively to everyone in the organisation. This means more than just sending out an email or posting a memo – it requires active and ongoing engagement to ensure that your employees are on board with the strategy and understand their role.


Lack of commitment

A strategy is only as good as the commitment of those who are tasked with carrying it out. If key employees or managers are not bought into the strategy, they’re unlikely to put in the time and effort required to make it a success.


Insufficient or inadequate resources

No matter how well you plan, your strategy will fail if you don’t have the resources necessary to see it through. This includes both financial resources and human capital, so be sure to assess your needs before finalising your strategy.


Ambiguous or conflicting goals

If your strategy sets out conflicting or unclear goals, it’s likely that different parts of the organisation will end up working against each other instead of together. This can lead to frustration and finger-pointing, rather than a cohesive strategy.


No clear priorities

A good strategy requires clear priorities, so that everyone knows what needs to be done and when. Without this level of clarity, it’s all too easy for employees to get bogged down in low-priority tasks, or to miss deadlines for critical projects.


Ambiguous responsibilities

Similarly, it’s important to ensure that everyone understands their role and responsibility in the strategy. This includes not only employees but also managers and executives, who need to be held accountable for strategy execution.


Lack of performance information

You can’t improve what you don’t measure, so it’s essential to have a clear system for tracking progress and performance against the strategy. This data can then be used to identify areas of improvement or potential problems.


Silo behaviour and sub-optimisation

One of the most common pitfalls in strategy execution is silo behaviour, where different parts of the organisation fail to work together. This can lead to duplication of effort, wasted resources, and a general feeling of frustration.


Strategy is not adapted to changes

The world is constantly changing, and your strategy needs to change with it. This means regular review and adaptation, to ensure that your strategy is still relevant and achievable.


Poor leadership

Poor leadership is often to blame for strategy failure, as it can lead to a lack of clarity, commitment, and direction. If your leaders are not fully behind the strategy, it’s unlikely to succeed.


Over-complexity

Finally, beware of making your strategy too complex. A simple and straightforward strategy is more likely to be successful than one that is overly complicated. Remember that your employees need to be able to understand and support the strategy, so keep it as simple as possible.

By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can set your strategy up for success. But even the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry, so be prepared to adapt and adjust as needed.


Want to know more? We’ve got a whole series of blog posts on strategy, planning, and execution.

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