The main obstacles to strategy implementation 

We often see organizations dedicate significant efforts to strategic planning. However, it’s common for difficulties to arise when it comes to executing the strategy. Here, we share some guidelines that, according to our experience, are useful in preventing the strategy from being shelved. 

Much has been debated about deviations in corporate strategy outcomes. In some cases, it’s due to design flaws. However, the majority of deviations are caused by execution problems. 

Understanding where the main failures lie is key to mitigating them in a timely manner and building efficient plans. Let’s take a look at some of the most common obstacles, based on our experience, when it comes to executing a strategy. 

Organizational silos 

Usually, requests and agreements are accepted within each area and not between them. Requests made across areas are often seen as power struggles, creating distrust among the involved stakeholders.  

What can we do to solve it? 

  • Transparently and collectively track each request and agreement made between two or more areas.  
  • Train employees to make and fulfill requests and manage their chain of agreements effectively. 
  • Publicly unify requests and agreements into a shared overall mission agreed upon by all.

Low commitment among employees 

Often, corporate strategy lacks a direct connection to the activities or tasks under the responsibility of employees. In turn, they feel unable to renegotiate requests from their superiors and end up committing more than they should. 

The solution we propose is to clearly communicate the strategy and ensure that all organization members understand how their daily tasks contribute to it. Each employee should have enough authority to reject or renegotiate requests that undermine operational efficiency in each area. 

Lack of agility 

Many times, we are slow to capture emerging opportunities because our focus is on meeting the agreed-upon objectives in evaluations. 

We should not only be evaluated based on the results achieved but also on our ability to seize new opportunities. 

Some practices we suggest for this purpose can be: 

  • Empower decision-makers to capture emerging opportunities. For example, it’s important to incentivize employees to anticipate discontinuities in the business environment, threats and opportunities in the company’s value chain, and movements from competitors. To achieve this, it’s crucial to have the appropriate capabilities to analyze the value of each opportunity that arises, allowing for prioritization based on impact and ease of implementation within the organization. 
  • Define a delegation model and adjust it over time through dialogue and renegotiation of agreements, based on changes in the company’s strategic priorities.

Lack of trust in management

When there is a lack of trust in the organization, we often implement control and monitoring mechanisms that hinder strategy execution. 

To overcome these barriers, we have seen that it’s possible to start with a series of small but high-impact agreements to build trust among the involved parties. 

Status quo 

Often, senior executives design innovative strategies, but the company continues to operate with its usual mechanisms.   

It’s important to recognize that any change in strategy requires a new set of agreements among the involved parties. Once agreements are established to address the new strategy, we must assign the appropriate roles. 

In conclusion, designing a winning strategy is only the first step. To make the promise a reality, we also need to achieve effectiveness in execution. If we fail in implementation, it’s difficult to reach the organizational objectives we set with that strategy. To do this, we must have the necessary control mechanisms to ensure compliance with each of the critical stages throughout the process. 

We should not only be evaluated based on the results achieved but also on our ability to seize new opportunities. 

Diego Dalle Nogare

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