Why strategy fails


People.

Of course… And there are tons of literature and most of it focuses on the big picture: Bad execution, they made the wrong decisions, didn’t have enough information –decisions made on the wrong information and so on.

But in my experience there is another reason. A much more subtle one and that is day-to-day business decisions. The problem here isn’t that the group doesn’t support the strategy – they do. They might even agree strongly.

Strategy is about choice. Not only about the choices you should make, but also just as much about the choices you shouldn’t make. It shows you the way and gives you some directions on how to get there.

But strategy is not black or white, it’s more shades of gray (goes for most strategies anyway – also the big ones).

Sometime short-term goals (like sales targets) take priority over the longer strategic goals. And the funny thing is that it doesn’t have an immediate effect on the long-term strategy. So the business leaders just keep on doing them and slowly they wander of the strategic path.

The key words here are “no immediate effect” and “slowly”.

When you put a frog into boiling water its immediate strategy is to try to get out before it dies. If you put a frog into a bowl of cold water and slowly turn the heat up, the frog will stay there until it dies. (No I have never done it but biologist will tell you that it’s true) The reason is that the frog has the ability to respond quickly to sudden changes (hot water), but will struggle to adjust if the change occurs slowly.

So keep to your strategy. If it is a good one the reward will come in the end…

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