In the thirty years I have worked with corporations and their strategy, I have yet to see an organization that practices the strategy exactly as planned. There is invariably a gap between the intended plan and the operating actions of the company. That “slip” is the result of many things such as not reallocating resources to align with strategy, lack of effective or consistent communication so that there are multiple interpretations of strategy, or even resistance to strategic change that limits strategic effectiveness.
That said, the worst offender is the company that doesn’t practice their strategy yet somehow convinces themselves they are operating consistently to plan. Let me give you the two most common examples.
1. This company develops a strategy for growth, identifies the initiatives necessary to make it happen and completes the written plan including forecasts and measures. And then proceeds to do business as it suits them. This ususally means they have an inability to trade long term growth for short term opportunity. In this scenario, a company wants to continue to be all things to all people, saying yes to all customers, and deferring the plan OR claim to be operating under it while not following it. A company cannot function effectively saying one thing and doing another. It’s a bit like the “Emperor Has No Clothes”. Everyone can see that what is being said and what is being done are clearly different but employees don’t feel comfortable calling leadership on it so the team muddles on, not knowing from one day to the next what is expected of them. This is a debilitating cycle and eventually causes daily issues and good people to leave.
2. The company realizes they are in trouble but rather than rethink the strategy, they try to tweak operations to get it back on track. The key is to be able to discern between a recoverable business model that has had a set back and throwing good money into a outdated strategy. Putting off strategy to guide significant capital and cash decisions, in order to “get the business back on track” means spending money in ways that might be futile because they work under the current scenario but won’t be helpful in the next strategy. Acknowledging when the fix is strategic vs. operational is key to avoiding this strategic “slip”.
If you may be letting your “slip” show, or just aren’t sure, get in touch and let’s discuss. firstname.lastname@example.org