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Five Reasons Companies Fail on Execution

Most organizations fail on strategy execution, not formation. Setting unrealistic expectations, including initiatives, measurements and milestones is one of the major causes of failure. The remaining most common reasons for failure are: lack of discipline and planning, rigidity- not allotting for situational shifts, lack of understanding and lack of buy-in or company-wide implementation.

Lack of discipline and planning

Immediately after the strategic planning process the ensuing steps for implementation should be scheduled. The strategic planning process can cause burn-out and those involved might want a break but this is not the time. Take action steps immediately. Organize a time for review, set dates for follow-up meetings and begin to disseminate the strategy throughout the organization. Don’t let other distraction and deadlines get in the way.

Rigidity- not allotting for situational shifts

Markets and industries can change quickly and it is possible that the strategic plan may need to be modified in as little as a month’s time. Don’t become so attached to the plan that you fail to see what changes in the marketplace. It is suggested that you periodically review steps seven through nine. Ask the questions again and if there have been any material shifts, reassess the strategy and consider making necessary changes.

Lack of understanding

Communication and education are vital components for successful execution. Creating employee knowledge and understanding is the objective of an effective communications process. Employees must learn about and understand the strategy, if they are to help implement it.

First and foremost, the strategy should be easy to communicate in a few sentences and include both the ‘goal’ and the ‘how’.

For example, this strategic initiative could be directed to the sales department, “to improve profit margins by 2% through an increase in cross-selling opportunities during the proposal phase”.

Consider having the strategy printed on place cards or other type of visual reminders that can be incorporated into the daily activities of the employees.

Lack of buy-in or company-wide implementation

Organizations must understand how to influence the successful implementation of the strategy. Managers must help employees set individual and team goals that are consistent with strategic success. Personal development and incentive plans should be customized to achieving these goals.

Evaluation-staying on track

It is suggested that a special meeting be held quarterly or semi-annually to review the progress and discuss possible modifications. If target goals are not being hit, ask why and do not be afraid to modify goals if history is proving them to be unrealistic. It is far better to hit a smaller goal than to have not hit any goals at all. Confidence is built with success and it is confidence that allows people to achieve milestones. Build slowly and firmly on solid ground—momentum will be on your side.

To learn more about Strategic Planning visit and look for the eBook titled, “Planning Your Company’s Growth A 10 Step Guide to the Strategic Planning Process”.

Lori educates and inspires entrepreneurs. Her company Business Simply Put provides information, advice and tools to succeed in business. Whether you are starting a company or growing an existing business, these tools will define your pathway to success. For more information visit or send an email to She loves to hear from inspired entrepreneurs!


Lori Williams
About the Author: Lori Williams

Lori Williams is a well-known business consultant, speaker and writer. She is the founder of which is an online resource for business information and advice. Business Simply Put offers eBooks, Financial Tools, Webinars and Videos designed for start-ups and small businesses. Lori is also an adjunct professor for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Southern California.

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