Damn, that was a strong statement.
How often you have you been a part of a meeting at work,
where the decision makers talk a lot of strategies that didn’t make sense?
Or, just turned out to be all talk.
Sadly, I have observed several leaders and decision-makers,
deliver the unproductive “Strategy talk.”
I am sure you know why a corporate strategy is important.
I am not going to discuss why we need a strategy in business?
The point I am trying to make is this…
A business or brand can experience several benefits of a well-executed, thought-of strategy.
It is absolutely important to come up with strategies.
But, without execution, they have no value, whatsoever.
Whether it is a marketing strategy, content strategy, or any other type of strategy…
EXECUTION Is key to traction.
So why strategy execution is so difficult?
In my experience, strategies don’t work due to two main reasons.
First, it was all talk, no action.
Or second, the person who came up with the strategy didn’t have the vision or the basic understanding of weaving together the different aspects of the strategy.
Kind of like a Lego puzzle.
A survey revealed that 67% of leaders trust their organization’s strategy formulation capabilities, but only 47% believe their organization is good at implementing strategy.
The survey also suggested that in around 50% of organizations, leaders spend only one day a month reviewing strategy implementation.
Well, that was enough data to demonstrate how poorly organization address strategy implementation.
How about some research-backed data?
Let’s talk about some of the reasons why business strategies suck,
aka, don’t succeed.
Why Business Strategies Suck?
Lack of Buy-in
While a strategy can come from one person, the execution part involves a team effort.
Often, buy-in stands between a strategy and its implementation.
Alright, so you have an amazing, innovating strategy.
But do others feel the same?
Getting everyone on the same page is often challenging.
Resistance to Change: Mindset
I have observed that this is one of the biggest reasons why a business fils while another grows exponentially.
Look at Amazon.
The ecommerce company is successful not because of luck or some secret sauce.
It has always experimented with new ideas and often adapted future models to gain competitive advantage.
Likewise, in business, several leaders do not want to change.
They have a set way of doing things.
If you pitch them a unique idea, they might find it challenging their “fixed” methods.
And that causes the strategy to never take off.
Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck talks about the two types of mindset- fixed mindset and growth mindset.
While a fixed mindset is based on the premise that qualities (being fixed) don’t change with time, a growth mindset proposes that both learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience.
Recently, I had a discussion with the owner of a successful financial planning company.
They have three offices across the United States.
When my team talked to them about the different ways
they can grow their revenue, their answer was:
“Oh! I like doing things this way. I am not comfortable trying these tactics…”.
What’s even more ironic is that this person has a Degree in Marketing, and yet they are unwilling to get out of their comfort zone.
Lack of Clarity/Directions
The next time you are in a business strategy meeting, look at the powerpoint slides of the presenter.
In most cases, they look like a mess.
If a strategy is not presented in a simple-to-understand fashion, there will no buy-in, and hence, no execution.
There’s a reason by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Google’s Sundar Pichai don’t clutter their slides with irrelevant words or numbers.
Look at one of Pichai’s slides below:
Yup, just four words on a slide!
Clarity is important in setting goals.
Gaining traction at the start
Alright, so the strategy that you proposed met with accolades.
And you even got the green signal from the decision makers.
Moreover, you even had your team start executing the strategy.
But are you struggling to gain traction at the start?
This is another issue faced during the strategy execution.
And when there is no traction, you feel pressured and frustrated.
Dead Deadlines? Project Management
Wandering aimlessly might be good for spiritualism.
Not so good for business growth.
Often, business strategies are laid out and executed without associating realistic deadlines.
Or, they lack project management.
Don’t make this mistake.
Time is everything.
Ensure that you treat a business strategy like a project.
And use project management principles to execute the milestones.
Even better if you can use Agile Project Management methodologies.
Lack of Business Alignment
A business strategy might not be productive if there is no alignment between the different departments of the business.
Sales and marketing not aligned?
Well, you have a problem there.
Strategies work when different departments unite over a single goal.
Lack of Time or Budget
Time is the most precious commodity there is.
Think of a strategy as a project, if it reaches the execution stage.
In fact, time management is one of the six functions of project management.
Think of this way.
If a project is not managed on time, it will cost extra money.
That is, the budget will inflate.
Therefore, in order for a strategy to be executed successfully, both time and budget have to be in place.
Lack of either can jeopardize the strategy.
Lack of people alignment and collaboration
A strategy does not yield fruit if the people working on it do not collaborate.
Regardless of company size or industry, team collaboration increases productivity.
Information overload and lack of motivation are some of the roadblocks in team collaboration.
Lack of resources
Earlier, we talked about time and budget.
Those are valuable resources.
But the “human” side of it is equally important.
I am talking about the people who will be working on that strategy.
Lack of manpower, systems, and processes can prevent the successful execution of a strategy.
Internal communication is key to implementing any strategic business plan.
The five elements, aka, who, why, what, when, and where, are important
The key to developing this understanding at all levels of an organization is effective strategic planning communication.
When implementing the Balanced Scorecard or any type of strategic plan,
the scope of an organization’s Internal communication strategy can make or break the efforts.
The Safety Net: Changing Culture
I am sure you would agree that many of us are averse to change.
And especially at work, a changing organizational culture often overwhelms us.
Will I be able to adapt?
Will I lose my job?
All these and more perturb employees in the workforce.
Hence, changing culture can create a hurdle in executing a strategy.
Lack of leadership
Patrick Dodson rightly said:
“Leadership is an elusive concept, hard to describe and impossible to prescribe. It is more evident in its absence so that when leadership is needed, its lack is sorely felt.”
Without an able leadership, it is difficult to execute a strategy.
Corruption is detrimental to growth.
Strategy execution can have issues if the business suffers from corruption.
Bribery, fraud, embezzlement, and kickbacks are some of the forms of business corruption.
Politics and conflicts can also create issues in strategy execution.
What happens when there are several stakeholders addressing a strategy?
There could be issues getting consensus.
Or ensuring that all stakeholders agree on their roles and deliverables.
While one should be flexible to change, and also keep experimenting,
Consistency goes a long way in executing a strategy successfully.
Those were some of the reasons (based on research and surveys)
why strategies are not successful.
What other examples do you have about strategic management and strategic planning?
Have you experienced issues implementing a strategy across
digital marketing, social media, advertising, ecommerce,
or other areas of business?
Share your comments below.
Stay tuned to learn how to create a business strategy that rocks.
And does not SUCK!