Chess PieceA prospective client remarked that what his business needed, to face an ongoing challenge, was a ‘good strategy.’  That in itself is quite unremarkable, but it set me thinking about what exactly constituted a ‘bad strategy’ and if we are to avoid that, can we actually deliver a ‘good strategy.’

Presented with this opportunity, I began noting down, from my own experiences in managing businesses and from facilitating strategy development, the reasons why strategies fail – and so what makes for a ‘bad strategy.’ 

I believe there are the 5 common traps for strategies;

  1. Does not address the key issues affecting performance: 
    In the rush to address a challenge, inadequate diagnosis is conducted into the underlying causes.  It is not always a product or service that is required, rather processes or existing departmental silos that may be the key issue.
  2. Has unrealistic expectations: 
    If the expectations or objectives are unrealistic, then the strategy is both wrong and doomed to fail.
  3. Does not have buy-in by the team: 
    One of the more common traits of a bad strategy is that it does not have the support of those tasked with implementing it.  Unless they are involved in the process of strategy development, it runs a good risk of failing.
  4. Implementation is not a focus:
    Implementation and project management are vital parts of any strategy and yet some managers do not place the required emphasis here.  If there are no actions, a strategy remains just a plan.
  5. Absence of measurement: 
    Measuring not just the progress of the implementation but the impact the strategy is having is key to ensuring its success, if not the need for some required adjustments.

So, if we can avoid these traps, do we have a ‘good strategy?’  It is important to realise that strategies represent an educated guess on how to improve your business.  The proof, as they say, will be ‘in the pudding!’  If the strategy works, then chances are it is a good one.  If it does not, perhaps one or some of the factors highlighted have played a part.

How are your strategies looking?

Ted Doraisamy