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What causes strategy implementation failure

Strategy implementation requires a unique set of implementation drivers so that the strategy remains relevant, is fully embraced by all staff and is executed so that the desired strategic outcomes can be achieved. This blog unpacks 2 of the big strategy execution levers that are key to making strategy implementation a reality.

1.    Engage the workforce

One of the biggest reasons why strategy implementation & execution fails is because the organisation doesn’t get behind it. If you’re staff and critical stakeholders don’t understand the strategy and fail to engage, then the strategy has already failed and this becomes a no-win scenario. The importance of employee and staff engagement cannot be over-emphasized. Engage staff as follows:

  • Preparation:  Strategy involves change. Change is difficult and human tendency is to resist it. So not matter how enlightened and inspiring your new strategic vision, it will come up against hurdles.  Four key hurdles that executives must overcome to achieve execution are cognitive, resource, motivation and political hurdles. It is important we understand each of these hurdles and develop strategies to overcome them.
  • Inclusion: Bring influential employees, not just executive team members into the planning process. Not only will they contribute meaningfully to strategy, they will also be critical in ensuring the organisation engages with the strategy. Furthermore, listen across the organisation during strategy formulation. Some of your best ideas will come from within your organisation, not the executive team.
  • Communication: Ensure every staff member understands the strategic vision, the strategic themes and what their role will be in delivering the strategic vision. Communicate the strategy through a combination of presentations, workshops, meetings, newsletters, intranets and updates. Continue strategy and performance updates throughout the year.
  • Clarification: It is important that all employees are aware of expectations. How are they expected to change? What and how are they expected to deliver? Each individual must understand their functions within the strategy, the expected outcomes and how they will be measured. As mentioned above performance measures and incentives should be aligned with performance against strategic KPIs.
  • Adaptation: A strategy must be a living, breathing document. As we all know: if there’s one constant in business these days it’s change. So our strategies must be adaptable and flexible so they can respond to changes in both our internal and external environments. Strategy meetings should be held regularly throughout the year, where initiatives and direction are assessed for performance and strategic relevance. At least once a year we should put our strategy under full review to check it against changes in our external and competitive environments as well as our internal environments.

 2.    Align your initiatives to the new strategy

A new strategy means new priorities and new activities across the organisation. Every activity (other than the most functional) must be reviewed against its relevance to the new strategy. A good way of doing this is to create a strategic value measurement tool for existing and new initiatives. Initiatives should be analysed against their strategic value and the impact to the organisation. Measuring your initiatives against a scorecard will help highlight the priorities and ensure the right initiatives are adopted for delivery.

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