Lessons Learned

Why Strategies Fail

In October of last year, Deloitte wrote a piece titled “Strategy execution: What could possibly go wrong?” You can read it here.

If you are like me, you will click on that link, begin to read, and then stop reading because I can’t stand business jargon.

Here’s the tl;dr.

Strategies fail because:

  • You don’t identify any actions resulting from the new strategy.
  • You don’t change your strategy when things change.
  • You don’t sustain the strategy after launch.

I’d like to propose a 4th:

  • Your people don’t care about your new strategy.

If you could either save a loved one (i.e. your mother) or save 100 strangers in another country, who would you save? I won’t judge either way, but I would think you would go out of your way to save your loved one. Why? Because you care about that loved one.

Caring about something can drive people to action, or if not action, at least agreement with that issue or topic. If your people care about your strategy, but don’t know how to act, that’s something you can tell them or train them on. If they care about your strategy, but don’t act, you can always do things like aligning incentives with actions that further your strategy. Long story short, once you can get them to care, the rest is easy.

I’m not going to belabor this more than necessary. When you launch your strategy, think about your workforce and ask yourself: do they care? If they don’t, think about how you can make them, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

Steven Choi works at Root, Inc. A Strategy Execution Firm. He helps people care about their company’s strategy.

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