Why do strategies fail?

There could be either a bad or a good strategy, as all decisions are made keeping in mind the current business goals, financials, economics and competition

Published: 06, Aug 2018

He is the Managing Director at O.C. Tanner

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

“A vision without a strategy remains an illusion” - Lee Bolman

This quote by Lee Bolman is self-explanatory: To break away from an illusion and achieve goals, it's important to focus on strategies. Here the execution of the program is a fine balance between activities and timelines in a logically thought out strategy.

An organisation formulates and puts forth strategies when it is the need of the hour for the business or a need for radical change to “shake things up”. In the normal mix of things, there could be either a bad or a good strategy, as all decisions are made keeping in mind the current business goals, financials, economics and competition.

There is, however, another side to it that is to find out why strategies fail. And irrespective of being good or bad, it is very difficult to pinpoint a specific reason.

Execution is largely dependent on the cultural nuances, emotions and experience that are carried by people who eventually make those decisions. This is the primal reason of execution failing. Here are the reasons as to why there is a need to create a fine balance:

Collaboration
Building a strategy needs the involvement of many teams that have a different set of purpose, agenda, thought process and skills, on the basis of their priorities, experience and learning. If these diverse ideas are not placed properly and identified right, it can cause cultural disagreements between the teams that would end up causing a negative influence on the final executed timeline of the product.

An organisation needs to understand its environment and identify its focus points based on the meaningful priorities it needs to set. Understanding the impact of strategies on its people and the organisation, would make for a more conducive office environment that helps the business grow.

Flexibility
Learn to be flexible at the right time and till the right point. The inability to change your thoughts or plans depending on the trending market scenario can lead the organisation to a major downfall. Make sure your strategy is based on the prevailing market conditions. It's necessary to ensure that the strategy is dynamic enough to be changed with dynamic market conditions.

Understanding
The word 'red' is associated with danger, love or a stop sigh. There are several perceptions that can be derived from one color. Just because the plan and timeline have been shared with the team, it doesn't mean there won’t be any gaps. Plan a meeting, explain the need for the strategy and process, and look forward to queries on it.

People Behavior
The strategies can also depend on a particular individual. Every team member has their own strengths and weaknesses, but it's important to factor in that certain team members could be unpredictable and prove to be an obstacle in the smooth execution of the carefully laid out plan.

The perfect plan
In the real world scenario, there is no perfect plan. It is all a game of numbers. While planning the strategy, get the team to think of all the possible errors and risks that could pop-up during implementation and have them prepare a solution accordingly. But these strategies would only shields you to inbuilt risk.

An unexpected external risk may come up. Maybe the manager didn't include a particular team, or didn't assign the right people to lead the project, and so on, the list could be endless.

So, before initiating strategies, it's important to make sure that everyone is onboard and is committed to make the new strategy work.

The author is the Managing Director at O.C. Tanner.

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