Why good strategies Fail?

Tired of failing to achieve your goals?  Want to feel a rush?  Want to see your employees come to work excited every day?  Of course, you do.  Here are 4 simple things that you can do.

Many of the CEOs I speak with share their frustration of not achieving their goals.  In fact, studies have shown that upwards of 80% of strategies fail. So why plan at all?  What do the other 20% do that is the magic sauce if you will?

It has been said often that “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast”.  That is true!  You see the companies that are successful have learned how to nurture their cultures.  They do this in a variety of ways but most importantly they pay attention to it and foster the values.  Remember, the Mission, Vision and values everyone told you was needed.


Here is some valuable information on how you can be sure that as a leader you are cultivating your culture and building a team versus a group of “paycheck” players.


Story of climb and turning back too soon

All too often change means things don’t go as well when you begin new initiatives.  There is a story about a man that longed to climb the mountain of nearly 10,000 feet.  He began each day early with hopes of reaching the top before dangerous weather impacted him and forced him to turn back.  Day after day he encountered obstacles he did not anticipate and was forced to return.  After nearly two months, he allowed his grandson of 13 to accompany him assuming the same result would occur.  As they reached a narrow passage and rain began to fall making the path forward to treacherous, he turned to his grandson and said we must go back.  His grandson looked down saddened that they would not reach the summit.  Then he spoke, “but grandfather you told me it would not be easy, so why are we giving up?  Is there nothing we can do?”.  At this his grandfather, looked ahead and noticed a small overhang where there was some shelter.  Upon reaching the safe area, they rested and sat quietly.  The rain began to let up and the sun peeked out.  Then the rain stopped, and they continued.  Eventually, they reached the summit!  On the descending climb, the grandfather spoke and said, “so many times I turned back and here on the first try with fresh thinking, WE MADE IT!

NEW STRATEGIES ARE NO DIFFERENT!  It is important to adjust as you look to move your business ahead.


Keep score…

If you walk around your plant or operation and talk with your people regularly (daily or 3-4 times per week), start a simple tally of how many folks you spoke with and if you shared any vision or values, especially making the correlation between the vision and values to everyday decisions.

You are making the effort to communicate; you need to make an impact from you time.  This gives you a quick measure.  It also is a good gut check to how much you really engage the organization.

If you are not doing this, START NOW!


Simplify your strategy, be wary of measurable’s.  (SMARTer)

All too often strategies are overly objective focused and result in missed opportunities or worse.  Targets are hit but the results are not as expected.  The reason is simple.  The intense focus of the organization on a particular measure, results in everyone placing a higher value on those than other important aspects or opportunities.  If your goal is 15% growth, and a 150% opportunity comes along with some added risk, what do you think happens?  EXACTLY, it is ignored or discouraged.

Instead consider selecting goals for your current measurables that will require fresh thinking to achieve them.  This fresh thinking drives innovation and greater awareness on the processes needed to perform at a higher level.  Remember the idea of BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?  As a leader, you need to engage the organization and encourage this innovation.  Discussions that start with if we want this to happen, what MUST change or be added.  Your job is then to encourage the change and provide the resources and support.  A great question to ask is this.

“Since we know where we want to go, what do we need to do to make that happen?”

The reason companies do not grow is the CEO fails to move the team ahead regardless of the adversities.


Focus on trends!!

Absolute values cause people and organizations to pull up short.  All too often a race is lost because the leader eased up at the end assuming they had won.  Instead, make it a point to watch the level of change occurring for important measures.  I even suggest that certain metrics are better expressed as the percent change in revenue or activity.

Take the first step to launching your company on a new trajectory to growth and profitability.  Reach out to SPC Consulting or become a Vistage member and learn how from other leaders.