Strategy Execution – Reasons for Failure?

Strategy Execution – Reasons for Failure?

By David Willden.

It is estimated that more than 60% of strategies are not successfully implemented. For years,  strategy execution has been the top challenge of CEOs.   In fact, even some of the great companies have been the best case studies of  colossal strategy failures (e.g., IBM, HP,  Xerox).

In 1993 when Lou Gertsner took the reigns at IBM,  it was  sinking at a scary pace.   He emphasized that a new vision wasn’t needed.  (Vision tells where you want to go.   Strategy outlines how you will get there.   Execution is the work to get to the vision.)  At the time,  IBM was a monolithic giant that was inept at adjusting based on changing markets and customer needs.   Instead, what was needed was  practical, dynamic strategies and outstanding execution.



Executives Love to Strategize

Senior executives love to develop strategies.  It is the heart of executive leadership. Unfortunately, most strategies do not link to actual operations –  never mind getting down to the employees who make constant decisions.   So you could say that most of the  strategies developed by executives are not very strategic – since they typically fail.

Employee Involvement is Key

Strategy execution is the result of hundreds of ongoing decisions make by employees at every level.   Each is making decisions based on their knowledge,  the information they have available to them, what they believe is best, and what is in their best interest.

5 Reasons Why Strategy Fails

By: Nilofer Merchant I’ve watched strategy being developed within companies like Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, and Nokia. I’ve seen strategy created by individuals. I’ve seen the big suits of Bain and McKinsey at work. I’ve seen it done well, and occasionally I’ve seen it done poorly. Having read...


The Execution Trap – Harvard Business Review

It’s commonly held that strategy is distinct from execution, but this is a flawed assumption. The idea that a strategy can be brilliant and its execution poor is simply wrong. The metaphor accompanying this viewpoint is that of the human body, with the brain as the “chooser” and the body as the “doer.” Translated...


The Top Five Reasons Why Strategic Plans Fail

“Most great plans aren’t. They are just nice, high-level ideas.” That’s how one of our survey respondents answered our question, “What are the top three obstacles that prevent great plans from reaching effective implementation?” Despite the universal chatter around the need to be “strategic”, and the untold hours spent developing strategic plans, it appears that they don’t work nearly often enough. And based on the spirited responses we got from the generous folks who answered our survey, it seems that many have been involved in a strategic plan that failed. Of course, we all know it’s not YOUR fault! If it’s any consolation, even the big boys can’t seem to get it right. 



Strategy Execution