Formulating a strategy for your business means defining and setting your business’ mission, objectives or goals, and stating how you plan to achieve them. But while many organisations commit time and money to formulate great strategies, they often fail to turn ambition into reality.

If the execution or implementation of your strategy fails, all your time and money will be wasted. Here are the six top reasons why strategy implementation fails.

1. Your strategy isn’t meaningful

Be careful not to fill your strategy document with fancy words and grand aspirations that no one can actually relate to. If your strategy isn’t meaningful to the stakeholders in your organisation (your employees, management, clients) they can’t engage with it, and it will end up condemned to the bottom drawer.

2. You haven’t properly understood your current situation

Imagine being dropped into the middle of a jungle with just a map. The map is very detailed and shows the location of a beautiful secluded holiday villa. But you have no idea where you are right now.

A strategy that fails to properly map out where your organisation is now will be almost impossible to implement – because you won’t know what actions to take to enable you to move from ‘here’ to ‘there’. Your strategy will be as useless as a map without a current location.

3. Failing to engage the right people

You can’t simply delegate the implementation of your strategy to ‘that guy in marketing’. Sure, allocate activities for your strategy to key individuals – but you must get your executive team engaged from the start, as a lack of buy-in from management will doom your strategy to failure. To maintain momentum, you need to drive the implementation of your strategy from the top.

To ensure engagement, involve your executive team – or key individuals within the team – in regular meetings to review progress against measurable strategy implementation activities. Identify other influential individuals from across your organisation to help with implementation and drive successful engagement of all stakeholders.

4. Allocating insufficient time

Be sensible with the timeframe within which you want to achieve your organisational goals. Major change takes time to implement and bed down – and just as your business cycles wax and wane, so will motivation to achieve your strategy.

Make sure your stakeholders give appropriate priority to strategy implementation, rather than waiting until they are ‘less busy’. We are always busy – and most people overestimate what they can do in one year, but underestimate what they can do in ten.

5. It’s too far from ‘here’ to ‘there’

It’s ok for your strategy to be ‘blue sky’ – your business goals should reflect the organisation’s end game. But make sure the people on the ground who need to implement the strategy (and who might not have been involved in the strategic planning process) don’t find it too difficult to see the plan in perspective.
If your strategy doesn’t take your short term objectives into account, there will just be too much of a stretch between your strategy and what your team are doing on a daily basis.

6. Failure to follow-up

The development of a strategy is not the end of a process – it’s just the beginning.
To ensure that day-to-day operational issues don’t end up swamping your strategy you’ll need to implement activities to move towards your goals, and monitor their success using meaningful data.

Make sure your strategic objectives are translated to tangible activities, and make individuals accountable for reporting and monitoring their success. Linking strategy implementation with individual KPIs should ensure strong stakeholder engagement.

By avoiding these pitfalls and putting the same effort and energy into implementing your strategy as into developing it, you’ll be well on the way to achieving your strategic goals. Remember, though, that your strategy should be a living document – review it regularly to make sure it’s still relevant to your current market and your long-term plans.