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  • Writer's pictureEva Jenisch

5 hurdles that can stand in the way of successful strategy implementation

The strategy is written and now it's time to move on to its implementation. There are plenty of approaches out there on how to go about planning and implementing a strategy - for me personally, Norton and Kaplan are still a good source.

What people talk about less often, however, are the hurdles along the way. Indeed, these should be recognized and mitigated within the risk plan. Here is my list of most critical hurdles which can put a strategy at risk.

  1. Lack of clarity, transparency or agility of the strategy and corresponding implementation plan. There needs to be a common understanding of the goals to be achieved and how the initiatives in the implementation plan will contribute to achieving these goals. If general conditions change (e.g., market, regulatory, competitive, financial), the strategy and plan should be adapted quickly and consistently in the relevant areas. A transparent monitoring and communication of the strategic achievements further promote transparency.

  2. Lack of alignment is a central topic - project portfolio, performance evaluation & recognition system, and objectives need alignment between all company levels. The implementation plan must fit with all initiatives in the company - in short, no projects without link to the strategy. Performance evaluation and recognition are directly linked to the desired behaviors supporting the strategy. The strategy must be broken down to the various levels of the organization and business units.

  3. Lack of commitment of the executive team during and after strategy implementation - the be-all and end-all of successful strategy implementation. It must be clear to all employees in the company that the executives are working together with all their strength on strategy implementation and are continuing to do so after implementation. This becomes visible through the credible actions of the managers as well as through regular communication (this includes body language and celebrating together).

  4. Lack of fit with the company. It is important to have a good understanding of the culture, processes, and capabilities in the company and how these may need to be transformed to successfully implement the strategy. Acceptance of the new strategy is essential - this can be supported by the first three points mentioned above, as well as by active involvement of employees in the change process.

  5. Lack of feasibility or missing technologies. It is important to think in terms of possible scenarios when developing a strategy, to assess feasibility and to identify disruptors at an early stage. Solutions might be found outside of the conventional framework of thinking with the courage to innovate, gain new experience, develop new skills or find suitable external partners.

So yes, strategy implementation remains challenging, and the implementation process is both essential and beneficial when it comes to making the company fit for the future. Transparency, alignment, commitment, cultural fit, and feasibility are the key elements for achieving results.

What hurdles have you encountered in implementing your strategies?


Foto von Eduard Labár auf Unsplash

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