The success of every organization depends upon its strategies, and that is why every year a good number of organizations, spend a lot in time, money and effort to create the perfect strategic plan (Syrett, 2007, p. 63). But a successful strategy will not benefit the company much if it is not executed successfully.
Recent studies of companies that have over five hundred million dollars in revenue showed that, more than sixty six percent of them set their targets above nine percent real growth. But unfortunately less than one company in ten of these firms achieves this level of success.
In fact only thirteen percent of them are able to achieve six percent compound annual growth rates and provide their shareholders with returns that exceed their cost of capital. This percentage could be raised if only companies understood the secret of successful strategy execution. This paper explains these secrets to successful strategy execution.
The success of every organization solely relies on how well it executes its strategies. (Syrett, 2007, p. 63). Brilliant strategies can place an organization in the competitive map, but this does not automatically translate into success in this aggressive sector, but on the contrary can it can lead to the organizations downfall. Many companies have excellent strategies but they struggle with their execution since most of them rely on other factors to trigger this implementation.
This reliance is mostly because these organizations do not understand the logistic for implementation of these effective strategies. This lack of understanding is majorly due to fear of the unknown, fear of the consequences, which can only be overcome if theses firms understood the secrets of successful strategy implementation. This paper explains these secrets to successful strategy implementation.
Why Strategies Fail
Before we look at the secrets we need to understand why most strategies fail, despite their brilliance. Strategies that fail are not the bad ones only, the good ones fail too and in most cases it is hard to pinpoint the reasons for their failure.
Failure could result from poor planning and clarification, poor communication, poor alignment and measurement, poor leadership for strategy execution, lack of expertise and experience, poor synchronization, cultural factors, and executive inattention among others. These causes have been explained below:
Lack of Expertise and Experience
Lack of expertise is mostly predominant in organizations that rely upon newly MBA-trained managers who lack of experience. These managers know a lot about decision making and planning but know very little about carrying out the proposed plans. Despite the fact that these newly trained managers are good and knowledgeable they still have much to learn probably through experience, and this means that they will make a lot of errors in the process.
Poor synchronization is the major reason why executions go wrong, since it allows the main focus of the given strategy to shift with time to a different thing altogether (Neilson, Martin, Powers, 2008, p. 5). Poor synchronization leads to deviation from the expected goals, hence failure to achieve the desired plans.
Plans mainly fail due to miscommunication and not communicating them to the right people involved. Sometimes the major strategies are developed and the information is not passed down to the lower levels of management who are responsible for the actual implementation of the strategies. This eventually results into the strategies not being achieved.
Resistance to change
Resistance to change in the organizational structure is another major cause for failure of plans. Resistance to change prevents effective implementation of new strategies and new policies in the organization.
There could be sound reasons for this resistance, like such strategies could only make sense to the high level managers like promoting one brand of a product at the expense of another, but the full impact it will bring to the organization may have not been considered. Another reason could be the fear of loss of employment, loss of market, decline of competitiveness among others.
Cultural factors to a greater extent hinder the execution of strategies effectively in any given company. In a number of cases companies, try to execute workable and tested strategies in a given market without realizing that they are operating in a niche that requires a totally different approach than the one they are using.
A good example is when the company moves into a new market environment like a new country and tries to apply the same policies it did with its suppliers in its earlier market. In most instances these new suppliers will not abide to these new policies forcing the company to reevaluate its policies.
Executive inattention is the biggest factor for failures of strategies, this is because once the plans have been decided upon no little or no follow up is executed to ensure the plan is implemented. To support this fact, recent research on companies show that less than fifteen percent of companies routinely follow up their plans and their five year growth expectations.
Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution
Many organization in an attempt to solve the problem of failing strategies, have resorted to extreme measures involving structural changes like reorganization, laying off more workers, employing new managers among other changes (Neilson, Martin, Powers, 2008, p. 5). These structural changes unfortunately only achieve short term benefits to the organization, but the problems that it purported to solve soon creeps in.
These factors only prove that the secret to successful strategy does not entirely depend upon the organizational structure but on the contrary depends upon several important factors. These factors include clarification of decision rights, ensuring that information flows to where it is needed, and realigning of incentives to support the strategies made among others (Neilson, Martin, Powers, 2008, p. 5).
Apart from these factors the success of organizational strategies also involve the correct application of the four management functions of planning, staffing, organizing, and directing or controlling (Holm, 2007, p. 163).
To be effective in implementing its strategies the management of the firm should ensure that every worker understand the decisions he is responsible for. The management should also ensure that the higher level managers delegate the operational decisions to the middle level and lower level managers who understand the operations at these subordinate levels (Neilson, Martin, Powers, 2008, p. 5).
The firm should facilitate information flow across the organizational boundaries to better manage the relationship between the companies’ various units.
People and Process
The firm should get the right people in place and the right things will be done, and in addition improve executive performance by training and through creating a culture of accountability among the lower level employees.
Getting the Job Done
The organization after doing all the above should employ a series of five steps to get things done. These steps involve the tangible things that the company can do to improve its chances of success through an ongoing process. Theses steps involve:
Developing a model for the execution of plans that provides a way to conceptualize market leadership goals. This model should be the guiding principle throughout the whole organization.
Keeping the plan center stage, since they are often simple, agreed to, and have a high chance of being forgotten in the long run. The firm can ensure the plan is not forgotten when executive meetings about operations are separated from those about strategies.
Assessing performance frequently from quarterly to monthly or even on weekly terms and ensuring effective communication of the plan to the people involved in carrying it out.
Apart from these steps, the effective execution of strategies relies upon the management’s efficiency in carrying out its four basic functions in line with its strategies. These functions include;
Planning involves chalking out a future plan or course of action and coming up with the most appropriate guidelines to achieve the predetermined goals. In developing strategies the firm should establish a strategic plan where it analyzes its competitive opportunities and threats, its strengths and weaknesses and position itself in a manner that it can compete effectively in its environment. This planning of strategies should be done in line with the organization’s mission which is its sole and major reason for existence.
Organizing is the process of bringing together, the physical, human, and financial resources to develop a productive relationship amongst them for effective achievement of the organizational goals. This function involves developing an organizational structure then employing human resource to ensure accomplishment of company objectives. In this respect the firm should design jobs in its departments in line with its strategies, and that will help it achieve them effectively.
Controlling is the managerial process of checking the advancement of the work in progress against the preset plans to see if they are running in accordance to the goals of the firm.
In this respect the organization has to continually check its performance to ensure it goes on in accordance with its strategies. This can be done through, establishing a standard performance, measuring the actual performance, comparing the actual performance with the set standards and trying to find out if any deviation exists and finally carrying out the corrective action.
Leading involves determining what needs to be done in a given situation and getting the people required to carry it out, to actually perform it. Leading is implemented effectively through, supervision and motivation. In supervision, the work of the subordinates is monitored and regulated to ensure it is in compliance with set plans. In motivation the workers are encouraged to be zealous t for their work by offering them incentives in form of monetary or non monetary terms.
In conclusion, the success of any organization depends upon how effectively they understand and adhere to the secrets of implementing their strategies. An organization can have the best strategies but its success does not depend entirely on them. This is majorly contributed by unexpected shortcomings and prevailing circumstances which can hamper their implementation. The success of every firm’s strategies solely depends upon how the organization will involve all of its departments in adhering to the principles discussed in this paper.
Holm, M. J. (2007). Strategy execution: passion & profit. Scandinavia: Copenhagen Business School Press.
Neilson, G. L., Martin, K. L., & Powers, E. (2008, June 1). The secrets to successful strategy execution. Harvard Business Review Article, 60, 1-14.
Syrett, M. (2007). Successful strategy execution: How to keep your business goals on target. Pine Street: Profile Books.