Why do strategic plans fail, and how can you prevent this from happening?

Among the reasons Strategic plans fail are the following:

  • The plan was flawed and could not succeed however committed the enterprise.

  • The plan was perfect, but emerged from the corporate rain-dance from which those who should have implemented the plan were excluded.

  • The plan was good enough but circumstances changed and a committed and engaged management team stuck to the plan.

  • The plan was good enough but when circumstances changed the strategy was found to rest on a forecast that proved too inaccurate to recover the strategy.

How can an enterprise mitigate these risks?

  • Gather the experience, expertise, insights, prejudices, opinions etc of as many stakeholders as possible to understand where the enterprise is and how it arrived there.

  • Model the way the enterprise creates and extracts value and sustains its competitive advantage.

  • Construct plausible futures the enterprise may face and figure out the optimum route for it to travel from how the model suggests it will perform.

  • Ensure that the strategy states clearly the ways the enterprise’s means will be deployed to achieve the ends, expressed as SMART objectives.

  • Be vigilant towards differences between the future that arrives and the plausible futures to understand how the model indicates the enterprise may perform. This is the essence of strategic management.

  • Never separate thinking from doing: the strategists may be theorists in style and the operations directors may be activists and pragmatists in style, but the enterprise needs them to collaborate.

For more on developing a Compelling Strategy see Strategy Academy.