The Keys to Execution: How Great Strategies Fail in Implementation

No matter how well researched and well written your strategic plan, it can fail in the implementation stage. It doesn’t matter how much executive or overall employee input went into it if you don’t act in a way that integrates the strategies into day-to-day company activity and culture.

Overview of Great Strategies

You’ll find similarities between an innovation culture and the culture proposing ultimately successful strategies. That’s because the strongest strategies come from the bottom up. It takes an innovation culture to foster an environment in which a business’s payroll technician or receptionist feels comfortable suggesting process changes.

Your first order of business then becomes creating an innovation culture, a topic we discussed in our previous blog. It starts at the C-level when executives listen, collaborate and empower. Help your business to implement the following steps to create the innovation culture that provides bottom-up strategies that garner genuine employee buy-in:

  • Provide staff with challenging projects.
  • Target a variety of innovation types, including policies, processes, products and profit models.
  • Discover and reward each department’s innovation champions.
  • Develop new incentives and metrics to evaluate innovations and strategy success.
  • Encourage the “wild ideas,” especially those from training sessions.
  • Create a safe mode for experimentation.
  • Parent your innovators and innovations by providing means for employee education and internal networking.
  • Break down the business hierarchy so employees can pitch to and collaborate with other employees at all levels.
  • Lead by example, networking outside your firm and encourage employees to do so, as well.

Ways Strategies Can Fail

Creating great strategies wins half the battle. Implementing them successfully provides the other half. Knowing and understanding the company strategy occurs in only five percent of businesses, reported Robert Kaplan and David P Norton in the Harvard Business Review.

About 70 percent of well-designed strategies fail due to poor execution. Education means everything. Most employees don’t know the details of the company strategy — less than 50 percent of employees know their firm’s strategy.

Every strategy needs to include a specific goal. Make it simple to follow, but detailed enough to implement easily. Follow these five key steps to implementing your strategic plan:

  • Visualize the strategy using an illustration — a planning cascade. Communicate this tangible representation of strategy to employees daily.
  • Create metrics that the organization tracks and ties to existing progress benchmarks.
  • Track the progress. A well-designed metric provides no information if you don’t track it.
  • Report the status throughout the organization Let people know what works and what needs improvement. Creating and tracking metrics hold employees accountable.
  • Coach your staff on how to better implement strategies. This is your self-accountability. True performance management occurs on a day-to-day basis. You may need to reallocate resources to enable employees to implement the strategies.

Make your strategy succeed today! Contact us at Starr & Associates today to schedule a free, on-site assessment interview. We’ll help you execute your strategic plan with a successful, strategic implementation.