July 2, 2021

Why Strategic Plans Fail: 5 Things Most Leaders Are Missing

July 2, 2021

Why Strategic Plans Fail: 5 Things Most Leaders Are Missing

Business Strategy, Marketing Strategy

5 Reasons Your Strategy Is Winning or Losing

Statistically, and overwhelmingly, most strategies fail to materialise any value.

After working with over 1,000 companies in the past decade, we have seen our fair share of clients who have consistently executed their strategies — by the playbook — and as a result, created millions of dollars of incremental value. Period on period, year after year.

Others don't... so what's the difference?

Below I've pulled together my top 5 reasons why some create value and others create wastepaper.

In this article, let’s take the time to look into the top reasons that are preventing companies from successfully executing their strategic plans.

Insight:  Firms seldom achieve the expected results of their strategic plans because of not knowing how to execute them effectively.

Data: 80% of leaders feel their company is good at crafting strategy but only 44% at its implementation.

Key Action Point: To execute strategic plans effectively, today’s executives and business leaders need to have the foresight to outline a well-structured strategy and work towards achieving an alignment with everyone in the organisation.

Here are some of the key reasons why most companies are unable to follow through their strategic plans:


Lack of Strategic Focus

Many companies set unrealistic goals and lack a clear focus on their goals and objectives. Without a strategic focus, there is no clear measure of success or growth. You can lose out on valuable time and waste critical resources.

In fact, according to Gartner, around 56% of the time spent on strategic planning is wasted. To counter this, it is important to first understand your organisation’s strategic purpose.

This can be done best through filling out a strategic radar. A strategic radar provides you with a single-page view of your external and internal opportunities and challenges, which is important to adequately give you the information and the context you need to understand where you are versus where you need to be.

Recommended article: The Death of the SWOT Analysis and the Rise of the Strategic Radar.

Poor Communication

Ask any employee in the company and check if they can point out your organisation’s core goals and objectives. If you find that they are unable to communicate it to you clearly, chances are, they are not at all on board with what it is or are unsure about what you are trying to achieve.

Most plans fail because of poor communication between the management and their teams. Many companies are challenged with the ability to communicate their strategy across the organisation.

In fact, 95% of employees do not even understand their organisation’s strategy or its objectives. And only 27% of employees are able to access their company’s strategic plans.

This is why effective internal communications is just as critical to executing your organisation’s plans effectively. Outlining your strategic plans and decisions in an easy-to-share one pager with your team is the best way to share it across the organisation and align your goals.

Forgetting to Manage BAU

Getting caught up with new goals and plans often drives the organisation away from their existing business initiatives — and this is a mistake.

In strategic planning and execution, it is important to consider and acknowledge your existing business efforts and the role they play in your overall strategy. Better yet, include your existing programs with your strategic plan and draw a line on the sand as to what goals coincide with what and establish clear timelines to measure the success of your new and existing business initiatives.

Lack of Alignment

More than 60% of organisations today do not link their strategic goals and objectives with that of their budget.

Many teams and departments develop strategic plans that are not at all linked to their organisation’s strategy, which says a lot about the need for strategic alignment in organisations.

Today, 20% of staff members resist implementation initiatives. If your employees are not 100% on board with your strategic decisions, it is highly unlikely that they’ll be able to execute your plans effectively.

Achieving alignment with all the critical stakeholders in your organisation not only gets you faster to where you need to be, but it also helps you paint a clear picture of what success looks like for everyone involved, thereby forcing you to come up with the best solutions and techniques to deal with critical problems and issues.

Not Celebrating Wins

One of the key reasons why having a clear strategic focus is important is that it allows you to track and measure success. It is crucial for organisations to celebrate wins, no matter how little they may be.

This gives teams the satisfaction that all their efforts have not been put to waste and that they are inching closer and closer to where they need to be, where the strategic plan is concerned.

More importantly, celebrating the small goals also gives you the opportunity to reinforce alignment on important goals and address any pressing issues and setbacks that may be stopping you from executing your plans from start to finish.

And by celebrating these successes along the way, you highlight the importance of strategy and its execution across the entire organisation, so everyone is ready to face the next challenge head on.

Find out exactly where you stand and how to best implement your strategic  plans. Complete a strategic radar with Step Change and let us help you get to  where you need to be.




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