You have created a strong team, held a very productive, off-site strategic planning session, documented all the ideas and plans, published the official “Strategic Plan” and told everyone about it at one of your Town Hall Meetings. And nothing is happening. Your strategic plan is heading for the pile of failed strategic plans and you have no idea why.
Mona Mitchell and I published our book “7 Elements of Strategy Execution” in mid-2019 as a response to many organizations’ struggle to bring strategy to reality. Forbes.com has been quoted to suggest that “over 60% of strategic plans fail in some way – and many of these never even get off the ground”.
The execution of strategy is a big issue in the corporate world, the public sector world and right through to small business and not-for-profits.
With this post, I begin a summer series on the seven Clear Signals That Your Strategic Plan Is Going to Fail and what you can do about them.
# 1 – Your Leaders Cannot Articulate the Plan
Sure, your senior leadership team knows what’s ahead – but does everyone else? Walk around the office and ask a few of the leaders two levels below the CEO/Executive Director about the strategic plan and you might be very surprised. Most organizations have created, unintentionally, a very wide gap between the strategic plan and the work that actually goes on day in and day out.
This gap must be eliminated. Regardless of the role anyone plays in the organization, everyone needs (deserves) to know the answer to three key questions: where you are headed, how you are going to get there and how it will affect them.
Leaders need to be able to articulate the plan at the right time, to the right audience in the right format – always focussing on the three questions above.
Mona and I talk in our book about building a culture around your strategy – an extension of your organizational culture or a distinct culture on its own. Strong, clear and repeated communication around the plan is the foundation to that culture.
Strategies fail for many reasons, but # 1 on the list is poor communication and that starts and ends with our leaders.