Leadership Mistakes In Executing Strategic Plans
Research shows that over 70% of all change initiatives worldwide fail to achieve their intended results. Surprisingly, this figure has remained fairly constant for several decades.
Why are organizations so poor at implementing strategic plans?
One key reason, according to Bridges Business Consulting International, is that “leadership teams habitually underestimate the implementation challenge and what is involved.” In our estimation, this really goes back to the leadership team creating the executional “hows” rather than involving the frontline implementers in helping to craft the executional tactics and plans.
Too often the post-mortems on failed strategies reveal these causes:
- The strategy is often set by those who do not have to execute it.
- The strategy is frequently set by those who do not understand how to execute it.
- Strategies are often overly optimistic on what is required to execute successfully.
- Leaders want strategies executed immediately, or as quickly as possible, without understanding the ramifications of expedited deadlines.
- Leaders who fall in love with their own ideas and plans without fully understanding what it takes to implement those ideas and plans.
As you can see, it is often the way leaders approach problems, and how they determine the solutions required, that often cause strategic plans to go astray.
There are many other reasons why strategic plans fail. Here are 10 of the most prominent ones:
- Unrealistic goals.
- Lack of focus and resources.
- Plans that are overly complex.
- Financial estimates that are significantly inaccurate (and usually overly optimistic).
- Plans based on insufficient data.
- Inflexible or undefined team roles and responsibilities (often leading to confusion, inaction or wrong steps).
- Staffing requirements not fully understood.
- Project scope is inflexible with no room to meet changing conditions.
- Leaders believe the hardest part is creating the strategy, when in fact implementation is the hardest part.
- Leaders do not communicate clearly and frequently.
Great leaders will provide an overview of how to achieve the strategic objectives, but leave the details of the “how” to those executing the strategy. Average leaders, on the other hand, are more likely to develop and include the details of execution in their strategic plans, forcing the execution teams to follow a designated path. This methodology has a lower degree of successful execution than the process used by great leaders.
This article is excerpted from my book Great Leadership Words of Wisdom, which is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats and has over 1000 quotes on leadership from global business leaders, statesmen, athletes, coaches, sages, and philosophers.