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Successful Strategy Execution at the C-Level

The overall rate for strategic plan failure is incredibly high. It is researched to be 80 to 85 percent. The high failure rate is why so many leaders roll their eyes, sigh and stall when making strategic plan decisions. Many people have had bad experiences with strategic planning. The good news is that the failure rate and the causes for the high failure rate have been heavily researched. The causes are very consistent and simple to understand, but the remedies are not easy to execute.

The first main cause for such a high rate of strategic plan failure in organizations is the senior leadership teams taking on too much. When they get together to think more deeply and clearly about what they really want, there is a level of excitement. That excitement can result in setting too many priorities. The first objective is to prioritize very clearly and carefully because strategic plan initiatives tend not to be day-to-day work. Strategic plan initiatives are work that is outside of the day job. So, if those objectives are not really important, they are going to be put to the side in the face of the day-to-day heat. Prioritization is not only important when we are creating the plan, but also when new business opportunities and dynamics develop over time. We may feel very good about a tight strategic plan for a two-, three- or four-year period of time, and we may continue adding to it, but if we are not aware of the degree to which we are making additions, suddenly we have an untenable situation where we are prioritizing too many objectives.

The second key reason for strategic plan failure is a lack of a dashboard, or the lack of an easy way to answer the question, “Where are we now, relative to where we hoped to be?” The dashboard is actually the result of a clear conversation about what our success indicators are. We may know or have a sense of what we are shooting for or what good will look like, but unless or until we talk definitively about what we will measure that will tell us when to celebrate and when we have a problem to resolve, it is going to be very difficult to be able to answer that question.

The third consideration regarding strategic plan failure is the lack of specific action plans. Too often, leadership teams do not see their strategic initiatives through to project plans, and that is actually what we do. We create special projects that we need to put resources against, talk about and monitor. Unless we see those initiatives as project plans and get them to that actionable level, it is extremely difficult to implement them.

The fourth key consideration and reason for failure is a lack of accountability. Lack of accountability is clearly tied to a lack of project planning. If we do not have a project plan, we are not clear on our milestones. And if we have not determined who is doing what by when, we cannot see the team being accountable and we cannot hold individuals accountable because we do not really know what we are expecting, and we have not organized ourselves around being monitored.

Senior leaders who achieve the 20 percent success rate understand where the finish line is for strategic planning. The finish line is not consensus around the strategic initiatives. It is the specific action plans and the monitoring process to bring them home.

For a 30 minute strategy execution consultation with Primer Michaels contact us today.

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