Copyright Interactive Design Labs 2005 - 2017
Why Strategies Fail at Execution
A strategy defines the scope and approach to an organization's survival and success, if implemented and executed successfully. Strategy execution represents a disciplined and systematic approach or a logical set of connected actionable decisions and activities that enables an organization to take a strategy and make it work. Strategy execution is about decision making and its hard because there are no road maps or guide to execution.
Organization's face a number of challenges in making strategies work; these may include:
All these factors are interdependent and influence each other and, to varying degrees, the success/failure of strategy implementation (or organizational change). Because they are interdependent and their influences are non-deterministic it is typically very difficult for managers to comprehend the contribution of these factors to the successful outcomes of strategy execution or organizational change success or failure. If an organization fails to pay proper attention to one of them, it can result in organizational change failure, therefore we need a systemic approach to understanding the influences of these factors.
Detailed Discussion of Contributing Factors to Execution Success/Failure
The myriad of factors that contribute to strategy execution failure or success are discussed in detail in this section.
Complexity is the state of a system having many parts connected or related to each other. This is one of the biggest barriers to successful strategy execution. Complexity can be classified into Technical Complexity and Social Complexity.
This is composed of uncertainty and decision complexity.
The sources of Social Complexity may derive from:
Poor Leadership Style
Poor leadership results in the failure to clearly communicate the reasons for the new strategy and garner the appropriate support to create consensus and enthusiasm in order to overcome any pockets of doubt and resistance to change. In addition, poor leadership results in failure to orchestrate the processes and major initiatives as well as coordination of management and staff in properly performing their tasks to accomplish work.
A strategy is a way through a difficulty; an approach to overcoming an obstacle; a response to a challenge. A bad strategy is a strategy that does not define an approach/means to respond to a challenge (opportunity/threat) or solve a known problem. It reflects an organization's failure to face the problem. A good strategy is a mixture of policy and action designed to surmount a challenge/problem.
Poor implementation may result in inadequate "Operating System" to support successful execution. This may be reflected in the following ways:
Bad Strategic Decisions
Bad strategic decisions are strategic decisions whose outcomes result in business failure/decline. Bad decisions may result from incomplete or short-circuited decision processes. The decision's outcomes are usually contingent on effects - the behavior of other actors (individuals or organizations) affected by the decision. These recursive relationships between decisions, decision outcomes, and effects on other actors' behavior make strategic decisions messier and more complex than operations decisions.
Strategic decisions are the product (outputs) of strategic decision-making processes. Strategic decision-making processes can be identified by the strategic 'issues', events or factors that trigger them. These triggers may include observed issues such as decrease in sales or sales growth, a new product entry by competitor(s); and events such as request for action from executive management, or simply a regular planning cycle. Strategic decisions are long-term in their impact; they affect and change the direction of the whole business/organization. Strategic decisions are among the main means through which management choices are actually realized. They are difficult or expensive to reverse because they substantially alter (and irrevocably so in the short run) the relationships between the decision makers' organization and customers, competitors, etc. Examples of strategic decisions include:
Poor planning may lead to strategy execution failure due to: bad or unrealistic schedules for project team members resulting waste of time and poor time management; l;ack of clear definition of strategy and project objectives; lack of buidgetary controls leading to misuse of funds, etc.
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