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Why Ideas and Strategies Fail at the Execution Phase

Why do so many “New Strategies” fail at the execution phase, even despite great investments of time and energy to define the strategy and a strong leadership team?

As a recent Harvard Business Journal article points out many so-called strategies are in fact goals and not strategies at all.

“We want to be the number one or number two in all the markets in which we operate” is one of those. It does not tell you what you are going to do; all it does is tell you what you hope the outcome will be. But you’ll still need a strategy to achieve it.

So what else can you do to ensure your strategy succeeds when it comes to executing?

The Strategy has to be clear and well understood

Not just at the top but by everyone involved and not just what is to be done but also why. There needs to be a clear set of actions and choices that the company will make and it needs to make sense to everyone that will be involved in executing the strategy. You must be able to explain the logic behind the choices.

It Can’t Be Just a Top-Down Approach

So many times a new strategy is determined at the executive or management level then communicated down when what is actually a better process is a combination of a Top-Down and Bottom-Up approach. According to Stanford professor, Robert Burgelman,

“Successful firms are characterized by maintaining bottom-up internal experimentation and selection processes while simultaneously maintaining top-driven strategic intent.”

The selection process needs to be organic

In order for a Bottom-Up innovation or strategy process to work it must be organic. Upper management should be designing the process and system for selecting the best projects not deciding which projects live or die. This requires a good deal of autonomy at all levels and a well designed system for determining which projects get supported based on the impact to the organization and the drive of the team to see it succeed.

Change needs to be the default

Innovation and new strategies always require change. This can mean changes in behaviors, changes in habits and even changes in thinking. The organization must have a culture that embraces change in order for innovation and new strategies to succeed. If faced with a choice of changing or sticking with the old way, the default should be change.

The #1 reason that small businesses, startups and solo entrepreneurs fail at such a staggering rate is that they are not able to build a consistent pipeline of opportunities and new clients to produce the cash flow needed to continue.

I founded Spark Growth Strategies to solve that specific challenge. We partner with business owners, CEOs, sales leaders and solo entrepreneurs to develop and enhance their Sales and Marketing strategies and tactics. We do this in a very cost effective way that fits within the budget of the businesses we serve. Let us help you find the Spark that Ignites your next level of growth.

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