The top 5 challenges with implementation of strategic plans

 In is well known that the execution, or rather the lack of it, is the number one reason plans fail. In fact, as many as 70% of plans fail due to poor execution, and plans that succeed realize only 63% of their proposed value. As I speak to CEOs around the country so many struggle with implementation. Most want to understand how to improve execution and are surprised to discover that challenged implementation is often the result of inadequate market analysis, unfocused strategy or inadequate resource allocation–all of which happen upstream of implementation. In other words, the degree to which a company is successful with implementation is a reflection of the quality of the work that precedes it. Here are the top 5 reasons why implementation is such a challenge. Solve for these and your plan has a much higher success rate.

 1. Market-enabled planning: Too often plans fail to consider the marketplace; what is changing, and what is needed. Plans that focus on a company’s objectives without regard to competitive and customer response are destined to face many more obstacles, which may derail the plan.

2. Leadership alignment: Organizational leadership that has a common understanding and mutual commitment to achieving the plan is critical to success. Often, there are different levels of understanding or buy-in, a lack of purposeful culture, or individual bias that make it difficult for the entire organization to work harmoniously together to achieve its goals.

3. Resource allocation: The funding of new initiatives is often a challenge. The source of funds is most often existing resources and the budget history is well established. Trying to re-allocate funds from historical buckets is a difficult task. It is not uncommon for new initiatives to be under-resourced as organizations struggle to free up money from existing activities. New initiatives often die of starvation and neglect.

4. Strategic focus: A well-crafted strategy provides organizational focus. The strategy itself serves as a watershed for decisions. The focus that a strategy lends enables the organization to understand which initiatives fit with the strategy and which do not. If the strategy is not clear, organizations take on either too many tasks or the tasks have no common purpose, thus no synergy and consequently lower ROI and often create an internal tug of war.

5. Clarity: For strategy to be internalized throughout an organization, it is imperative that people know what is expected of them. Strategy needs to be as specific as possible and communicated in a consistent manner for implementation to be effective.

 The best bet to improve implementation is to have a detailed and fact-based understanding of the market upon which to build a strategy; to have an focused strategy that provides organization-wide clarity; and appropriate resources allocated to the initiatives. If those activities have been accomplished, implementation is likely to be a smoother process.

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