Turning strategy into action – a guide to strategy implementation
Developing the strategy is the easy part
You’ve just put the finishing touches to your business strategy. You’ve spoken to customers, researched the key market segments, and projected the financials.
The Board and shareholders are aligned and agree on the priorities to take the business forward.
That was the easy part!
Translating strategy into action
Translating a strategy into action is a significant challenge. All too often, the benefits that were promised are delivered late, or fail to materialise at all.
Management teams get distracted by the day-to-day challenges of running the business. Cross-functional initiatives fall between operating silos, budgets get reallocated and the initial momentum is lost.
High failure rates
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
Despite strategy implementation being seen as a key priority by most senior executives, fewer than 15% of organisations consider themselves to be successful when it comes to executing strategy.
Estimates for strategy implementation failure rates range from 50% to 90%.
Our experience in implementing strategy
We have spent over twenty years helping clients translate strategy into action, working with a range of clients from start-ups through to large corporations and public sector organisations.
Through this, we have identified a number of key principles that can help you to avoid common implementation pitfalls.
By applying these principles, strategy implementation can be a more predictable, transparent and repeatable process.
Why do strategies fail?
The reasons for strategy implementation failures are complex and vary from organisation to organisation, but often include one or more of the following issues:
- Unclear strategy
- Lack of alignment among senior executives
- Lack of a clear plan
- Ongoing operational distractions
- Lack of cross-functional collaboration
- Poor culture / communication
Strategy Implementation Framework
- The mapping of the strategy into a series of individual initiatives
- Project plans developed for each strategic initiative, defining the objectives, milestones, resources and timeframe
2. Team Structure
- The team structure put in place to oversee and manage the ongoing delivery of the strategy (e.g. strategy steering committee, initiative project sponsors, project resources for individual initiatives)
3. Process & Tools
- The mechanisms to track progress against the implementation plan, and to ensure that issues that
could put the strategy at risk are addressed in a timely manner
Successful strategy implementation requires a clear program plan, with the breakdown of the strategy into a number of key initiatives with clearly defined milestones, resourcing and targets to track. It also requires appropriate resourcing, and senior oversight during the delivery stage. This is best achieved via a clear process and tools to track delivery.
Despite strategy implementation being seen as a key priority by most senior executives, fewer
than 15% of organisations consider themselves to be successful when it comes to executing
strategy. Estimates for strategy implementation failure rates range from 50% to 90%.
The reasons for strategy implementation failures are complex and vary from organisation to
organisation, but often include one or more of the following: Unclear strategy, lack of alignment among senior executives, lack of a clear plan, ongoing operational distractions, lack of cross-functional collaboration, and poor culture / communication.
Key pre-requisites for a successful strategy implementation include: 1) A clear plan that breaks the overall strategy down into a series of individual strategy initiatives 2) A team structure that promotes individual accountability and cross-functional collaboration 3) Processes and tools in place that enable ongoing progress in implementing the strategy to be tracked, and issues to be identified at an early stage.
Links to other resources
Get the full report
For the first time, insights from more than 20 years of experience in strategy implementation have been collated in this essential guide to turning strategy into action.
- Identifies common implementation pitfalls
- Defines a clear strategy implementation framework
- Describes essential planning pre-requisites
- Provides recommended team and governance structures
- Reviews essential program management processes and tools