The function of top-level management is to devise strategy for the organization. This strategy defines and directs the activities of the organization, and in broader terms defines the character of the organization. This is the universal function of the high management all over the world.
The best defined strategies in the world are useless without an implementation phase. This phase is essential to try out the strategy in the real world, and provide vital feedback that is used to modify aspects of the said strategy to make it more efficient and effective in achieving the stated goals.
However, as many mid-level managers would tell you, there is a huge gap between what is written in the strategy implementation document and the actual implementation of the strategy. In many cases, things often go smoothly with no major issues rocking the boat. However, inadvertently things happen that cause minor issues to snowball into big problems. This is where strategy implementation fails to live up to the vision of the strategy document.
The following is a list of factors that could cause the best laid strategies to fail miserably. It should be noted that in all failed projects of strategy implementation, one or more factors are always present.
No Backing From The Top
The number one reason why strategies fail to translate from paper to real world is the absence of managerial backing. This often takes the form of total silence whenever the implementation reports problems to the higher management. This silence means that no further action could be taken in the first place. Even when implementation managers take things in their own hands, management fails either to support their decision or worse: countermanding the decision, thus destroying the whole process.
This lack of support comes as a surprise to many implementation managers. After all, upper management have decided upon the strategy in the first place. Given this, it is very uncomforting not to have the support for the implementation phase.
One common mistake that many strategy documents make is having unclear goals and outcomes. This unclear position is often ignored by the policy makers who devise the strategy because they are more focused on the ‘how’ of the strategy rather than the final outcome.
This ambiguity comes to haunt the implementation process when the team decides on the appropriate technology, processes and personnel for the accomplishment of the job. Another fallout of unclear goals are faulty timelines and implementation schedules. These muddle up the entire process, and cause the whole project to fail.
Lack Of Communication
Lack of communication could cause the best laid implementation plans to fail. In many cases, this is the second cause of strategy implementation failure, and lack of communication can occur on several levels and include external stakeholders. The responsibility of communication failure could be laid at the doors of implementation managers and their contact with the strategy makers. This is often the most important area where constant communication about the status of the project and clarification about policy points is essential.
Similarly, failure to communicate in a timely manner might result in implementation team members to feel isolated from the process. In this state, people make mistakes that could have project-wide implications.
Any implementation project that takes its directions from a pre-defined strategy document requires extensive groundwork. Usually, this groundwork is the part of the initial phases of the implementation process. An important thing to understand at this point is that the groundwork has to be completed before any progress on the actual implementation can be made. Failing to do so will cause numerous small issues to arise during the implementation phase.
Proper groundwork includes appropriation activities such as acquiring technology, equipment and people for the job. It also includes meetings with designated managers and stakeholders to clarify points of strategy and alert them of the timelines and their roles in the implementation process.
Proper implementation of strategy is as important as devising the right strategy in the first place. It is important the managers selected for implementation have a fair amount of field experience and are well-versed in avoiding the above mentioned pitfalls.
(About the author: LSA Global has been a top business and executive coaching firm since 1995. We provide business development and organizational strategies. Our services make your business boost and sustain amongst your competitors. we provide business and executive coaching to our clients and also do business consulting services to provide assistance and build new strategies in business.)
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