[Editor's Note: Almost 2/3 of all strategies fail to reach expectations. Why do so many business strategies fail? Below are some key reasons. Knowing the barriers in your organization to successful planning and execution is the first step. Clients that follow our recommendations have significantly outperformed the competition. We like to say, "A good plan, well executed, beats a great plan, poorly executed, every time." Contact us if you would like more information.
For another article on the importance of execution, see Harvard Business Review article The Execution Trap: The most brilliant strategy in the world won't do you any good if you can't deliver -DPM ]
Execution- Failure to Launch: Reasons Company Strategies Don't Succeed
1. No clear definition of success
Fuzzy goals lead to fuzzy outcomes. While it seems obvious, many organizations simply don't articulate the specific goal of a business strategy. If the goal of your customer intimacy strategy is to form deeper customer relationships, that's fuzzy. If the goal is to increase customer retention by 10 percent and increase annual revenue per customer by $10,000 and net profit by $1,000, that's clear. Here, deeper customer relationships may be the mechanism to achieve the goal.
2. Too many goals
When everything is a priority, nothing gets accomplished. Many so-called strategic plans have too many goals, objectives, success drivers, strategies, initiatives and so on. Worse, it's not clear how these various appendages are linked. Is it any surprise these plans sit on shelves and collect dust? Choose to do fewer things much better.
3. Metrics and Alignment - Either no metrics or vague metrics
Many plans are simply a brainstormed list of things to get done by unspecified people at indeterminate times. A plan with specifics outlines who will do what by when. It takes into account the sequencing and timing of tasks, activities and resources. Make certain that the goals of everyone in the organization are aligned to the few key objectives.
4. Visibility - Progress isn't measured and managed
Ever notice how plans placed in the spotlight flourish while those left in the dark shrivel? Any plan worth executing is worth tracking. A monthly meeting with a tight agenda can quickly determine what actions have been taken; what progress has been made; what will be accomplished over the next month and by whom, and what, if any, challenges have emerged. This builds commitment, accountability and confidence in the process.
5. You lack the right people
Some of those nice people who work for you may not be the right people to get the job done. That statement makes you uncomfortable, doesn't it? Many have been loyal, are committed to the culture, and may be friends and family. However, If you are truly committed to winning, or achieving success - however you define it - then at some point you have to take a long, hard, honest look at the capabilities of your people. Point them in the right direction, support them, develop them - give them a fair chance to succeed. But if they can't get it done, then your responsibility is to get people who can.
6. Flexibility - Failure to update the plan to stay real
Reserve the right to do what makes sense. Plans are based on assumptions that can change over time. If they do change, then the plan may need to change. A quarterly "recalibration" meeting is a good forum to test your assumptions and determine which, if any, have changed. The meeting may result in either a re-validation or redesign of the plan. It ensures the plan stays real and relevant.
7. Reaction to Failure - Failure is met with indifference or an inquisitionIs your team serious about its definition of success? Your response to failure sends a clear message about your commitment to winning. Just as importantly, it sends a message about your credibility. Do you ignore a failed initiative and move on to the next big thing (which conveys that you really weren't that committed and you shouldn't be taken seriously)? Do you look for scapegoats (which communicates that you don't take personal responsibility and can't be trusted)? Or do you first look in the mirror, take responsibility, then publicly commit to getting it right, and effectively engage your people to make it happen? Your choice speaks volumes about who you are as a leader.
Where does your organization stand? Mead Consulting Group's process begins with the identification of the barriers and obstacles to successful planning and execution. These "barriers" develop in ALL companies over time. In fact, some of the very things that help a company succeed at early levels will prevent them from succeeding at the next level. The key is to address these barriers so that the path is uncluttered.