Strategy and implementation are inextricably linked.  It is important to put together a plan on how the strategy will be implemented, as a poorly implemented strategy will compromise the results.  The biggest mistakes a company makes when implementing a strategy are summarized below. These mistakes are listed in no particular order, as any one of them can be crippling to the business, with a combination of them proving fatal.

1. Lack of a coherent strategy – The offering and subsequent strategy must have a value proposition differentiating it from the competition.  Once the decision is reached on the strategy, a plan needs to be defined and communicated within the organization with everyone’s interests and activities aligned.

2. Ignoring the Human Factor – A company can have the best strategy in the business, but without the right people, properly trained and incentivized, it will never realize its full potential.  In today’s environment, with differences between companies and competitors often blurred, the human side of the equation is more important than ever.

3. Improper Communication – The plan should be conveyed in a clear and crisp manner.  The employees should understand the larger goals of the company and the specific goals applicable to them, with a clear and unequivocal understanding of their role in achieving goals and the priority of these goals.

4. Lack of Accountability – Every activity associated with the plan must have someone accountable for completion of the task.  Those responsible should be empowered in order to imbue ownership and accountability, with a system in place to ascertain goal status and completion.  If no one owns it, no one is accountable.

5. Lack of Metrics – A plan must have a set of milestones or deadlines.  These milestones need to be specific, with clear accountability.  It is the accomplishment of these milestones that determines the success of a project and a business.

6. Lack of Review – A process must be in place to determine progress toward completion.  This is accomplished through a series of reviews, the frequency of which is determined by the scope and time frame of the plan. By monitoring progress and assessing progress towards the plan the necessary adjustments can be made in a timely manner.

7. Incentives Not Aligned – Incentives should drive individual performance to achieve the success of the plan.  These incentives should be objective versus subjective. The plan should include incentives for both short-term and long-term goals, all of which are aligned so that individual or divisional rewards cannot be realized at the expense of the company.

8. Poor Intelligence or Data – It is incumbent upon leadership to ensure they have as much valid data as possible when making a decision.  When assessing data or input, one needs to be measured in drawing conclusions and strive to validate the data as much as possible.  Different people may characterize situations in different ways due to an inherent or organizational bias.

9. Strategy Conflicts with Finance – A strategy with incentive plans not properly aligned could result in internecine conflict.  As an example, if a Divisional Plan is weighted more towards capturing market share while the overarching emphasis on a Corporate Level is profit, you will have contrarian views on which tactics to pursue.

10. Lack of Simplicity – As a company grows, takes on more offerings, adds personnel, creates new positions, and implements systems to manage growth, an unintended consequence is that business processes become more complicated.  Advances in technology, designed to make things simpler, often add another layer of complexity with information transmitted to a host of individuals which can exacerbate the decision-making process. Review all processes, offerings, approvals, and communications with the intent to simplify and streamline as much as practical.

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