5 Reasons Why Some Strategic Business Plans Fail

Maureen Grealish director at LEAPResearch into the factors leading to strategic planning failure in business reveal a myriad of reasons why some companies struggle to survive in the marketplace. But the more conspicuous statistics relate to development versus implementation. Reports such as the Bridges Strategy Implementation Survey indicate that 80{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} of team leaders feel satisfied with their development plans, but only 44{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} are happy with its implementation.  Spectacular strategic failures like Kodak grab headlines for all the wrong reasons, but in truth many companies suffer the same fate with business leaders failing to innovate, or senior managers failing to implement the business plan. With her extensive experience in strategic planning, Maureen Grealish outlines 5 reasons why some strategic business plans fail, and why companies struggle with this critical issue.

1. Lack of Alignment Between Strategy, Objectives, Vision and KPIs
“Some businesses develop Visions, Strategy, Objectives and KPIs independently of each other, not understanding that they should be linked. Even though they may focus on each area, the fact that they are not aligned results in lack of focus, direction and impact. The idea is to fix on a vision first, then identify a strategy that will get the business there. Once the strategy has been agreed, 5/6 Key Business Objectives for the next 12-18 months can be agreed, and with them the measurements that will measure the progress (or otherwise) towards the achievement of the objective.”

2. Lack of Discipline
“Lack of consistency in discipline will affect the outcomes from any Strategic Development Programme. A lot of discussion, time and effort can go in to developing the strategic plan of a business. The biggest reason that they fail is that the action elements are not applied, monitored regularly or refined when required. This results in lack of focus and direction. It also results in lack of energy…if actions aren’t being completed then nothing can be achieved.”

3. Lack of Accountability
“As part of the strategic plan development, actions will have been identified. Each action will have a deadline and an owner. If the MD does not encourage accountability for completion of the actions, then people will realise that there are no consequences for lack of action and the drive to complete them will be pushed to the background when other, often immediate, challenges arise.”

4. Lack of Head Space
“When managers, leaders and team members are so busy that they cannot ‘lift their heads’ away from the immediate requirements of the business, it is difficult for them to get the head space to address the medium and long-term elements of the business. It is human nature to focus on the immediate, however, it does not help a business progress towards the completion of an objective, which makes it impossible to successfully realise a vision. It takes practice and discipline to give some time to the future, and to ensure that decisions made and actions taken will assist with getting the business to where it wants to go.”

5. Lack of Courage
“It is easier to focus on the elements of our responsibilities that we know we are good at. The natural tendency is to achieve NOW. It can be more difficult to spend some of our time focusing on the future – that may be uncertain, may have risk and may be uncharted territory. We all need to be courageous to challenge what we are doing now, what is comfortable for us, and to adapt to changes which may be difficult in the short term, but will have greater impact in the longer term.”

Maureen Grealish
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Interview by Des Kirby
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The report by AIB/ Amarach Business 2020 provides an overview of how Irish business leaders and decision makers feel about opportunities in the coming years regarding ‘working, selling and succeeding.’ You can download the report from the Amarach landing page.

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For more information contact:
Maureen Grealish Director at LEAP
Sonja Stevens Business Development
T: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

 

Sometimes Leadership Skills Means Knowing When To Say No

Maureen Grealish director at LEAPIn the highly competitive world of business, CEO’s require a variety of leadership skills and qualities. Some are obvious and you’ve probably heard them mentioned many times before – a clear vision, the ability to develop achievable business goals, a good communicator, excellent motivator, tenacious, innovative, a risk taker. But self -awareness is probably the greatest quality that any CEO can possess.

One way that this pays off is in the decision making process. For example, if a company is in the early stages of development, the CEO and senior managers must be aware of the capacity of their workforce and their operations. They need to be conscious of the fact that with a limited number of staff they can only produce so much output at any given time.

Know Your Limitations

It’s vital therefore that every business owner, particularly in the start-up phase, understands what the limitations of their business operations are. How many units of product can they realistically produce and deliver to customers per day, per week, per month? Setting Key Performance Indicators is a crucial part of this process.

The Right Response?

But what happens when a CEO gets approached by a new client with a potentially lucrative contract that is bigger than anything they’ve taken on before? It may be tempting for an inexperienced business owner to say yes to everything in the mistaken belief that he should never pass up the opportunity to do business. But is this the right response? What if the opportunity is simply beyond the scope of the business owner and he fails to deliver the contracted amount of product on time? How damaging can that be?

The answer will vary from company to company and the type of business you’re in. Some companies may fail to deliver on a contract and still survive. This may occur simply because the failure to deliver was not publicised widely across media channels. Others may not be so lucky and find themselves featuring in newspaper and internet articles for all the wrong reasons. CEO’s who fail to deliver may find the damage is irreparable and struggle to regain the trust of clients.

The most recent case of this was the failure of the G4S boss Nick Buckles to deliver the necessary security personnel for London 2012 Olympics. By his own admission at the subsequent inquiry in London, he simply couldn’t deliver because he had bitten off more than he could chew; a mistake that could cost G4S between £30 – £50 million pounds.

Maureen Grealish

“As a business advisor with LEAP I have worked with CEO’s in the small to medium sized sector for many years. I understand the temptation to accept all contracts but I also understand that CEO’s need to know when to say no. It is always tempting to accept the offer of work at any stage of business but particularly as a start-up, but if the contract is beyond the capacity, and more important the capability of the business, then they should say no.”

Sometimes Leadership Means Knowing When To Say No: Saying No As Part Of Your Brand Management

“It is true that a business needs to stretch itself and always try to achieve more than may seem possible, but it is important to focus on the type of business that brings out the best in your business, and your people. Saying yes, will normally be for cash-flow reasons, but you need to decide if the contract fits with your business, its strengths and with your future plans. The benefits of saying no are that you can focus your time and limited resources on building your business in line with its strengths and longer term goals. Another benefit is that you are more likely to meet and exceed customer’s expectations which is important at any stage of business, but especially when you are trying to build a reputation as a new business.”