LMAC Insight

Why Strategic Plans Fail

Everyone understands that to be successful, a company needs a good strategy, right? We can all think of trendy companies that have disrupted the market through having a great ‘Strategy’, Apple, Uber, Airbnb, I’m sure you can think of lots more. Combine this with all the current focus on Core Purpose – “The Why” and business leaders are being bombarded with information on what they need to do.

So why is it that most businesses don’t achieve what they set out to?

During my years in management at Toyota I thought I was good at setting clear strategic plans and engaging my teams to deliver them. I used their well refined Hoshin Kanri model and achieved some good results. It’s only during the years since whilst working as a Consultant that I’ve realised how much more there is to it. As a Consultant, I am in a privileged position, I get to see and hear a vast array of perspectives throughout a business. You quickly start to see the common problems that companies face when trying to design and implement strategic plans.

What makes a company successful in strategy deployment?

From my experience, I would summarise it into these 3 high level categories:

  • The process / framework used – There isn’t one globally recognised approach to strategy. When you google it, you’re hit with a multitude of methodologies and tools telling you what to do. This leaves people picking and choosing the elements that make most sense and piecing them together. Companies that perform well have a logical, robust process that asks the right questions, pieces the jigsaw together, breaks the plans down into manageable tasks and communicates it effectively, gaining buy in at all levels.
  • Mix of capabilities in the Strategic Management Team – Some managers are real entrepreneurs, they see the next opportunity and are always one step ahead. On the other end of the spectrum you have the operational folks who find it very hard to think outside of today’s model, they need to understand how this new idea might work. To be successful you need a blend of different attributes. Without the strategic thinkers, you end up with a shinier version of what you have now and without the operational thinkers a lot of money can be wasted chasing pie in the sky ideas.
  • Culture – This is an abused word so I’m going to be very specific. A team that are driven, disciplined and work together. The Leaders set this culture and companies that succeed have the discipline to follow the process. The most common problem that I see in businesses is the lack of discipline to adhere to weekly reviews or to follow up and complete actions on time.


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