30 Reasons Why Strategic Initiatives Fail

I wrote this presentation some time ago. As I review the content, I believe it still holds true today as it did then. Well then, I had 20 reasons!

When I headed Engineering, I remember one of my engineers sharing with me: “My initiative would be just fine, if I did not have people in it!”

I must admit – I chuckled. The reality is most projects and initiatives fail because of the soft-side of the project.

Here are my 30 Reasons Why Strategic Initiatives Fail:

The Strategy

1. Failing to define your ideal future vision in the beginning… that is shared.

2. Failing to clarify and simplify.

3. Developing only superficial vision, mission and values statements. Especially those that end up on a wall or in a folder somewhere. Not lived.

4. Forgetting that people support what they feel they have been apart of.

Success comes with involvement

5. Failing to make tough choices to future directions and obsolete tasks. It must have value and value as defined by the customer. Not new but true even more so today.

6. Neglecting to gauge yourself against the competition.

7. Conducting only long-range financial forecasting.

8. Poor information on social, competitive, economic, political, technical, industry and customer influences – this should be a continuous analysis not an event. Just plain aversion or openness to new ideas.

9. Using confusing terminology.

10. Using confusing language.

The Plan

11. Failing to integrate planning at all levels.

12. Conducting “business as usual” after strategically planning otherwise.

13. Commitment to the plan.

14. Communicating the plan.

15. Having a plan. Now there’s a concept 😉

16. Recognizing that it is a “living plan”.

The Implementation

17. Lack of  focus.

18. Inconsistent decisions

19. Failing to design/ complete an effective (measured) implementation process.

20. No management of implementation and process of change.

21. Difficultly in keeping up momentum during the  implementation.

22. Burnout.

23. Low commitment to the final products of the strategic plan.

24. Failure to provide the needed resources (financial and personnel) to implement.

25. Differing directions/priorities among business/organizational units

26. Conflict and politics.

27. Lack of Sponsorship.

28. Lack of Leadership.

29. Lack of interpersonal skills among top management working as a “team”.

30. The actual implementation.

Many of the above are people-related and can been seen as symptoms of resistance. I would also like to state that these reasons are not just employee-related. It starts at the top. Model the model leaders.

I am intrigued if you have experienced any of the above or other reasons!

Stay the course and be successful.



About Shirley Williams

I have a passion to create, resolve and build.I have had a pretty dynamic career that some say has led to a solid reputation as a visionary, result-driven and passionate leader. I say, simplify the complexity, work WITH people and you have a formula that not only deliver results but forms bonds that will stand the test of time. I have led numerous initiatives with a geographical scope that has included Canada, US, The South Americas,Europe and Australia. My professional career spans Biotechnology, Brand & Generic Pharmaceuticals, IBM Business Consulting Services, Healthcare, Retail, Electronics, more recently Mining and now Social Media. I am a biochemist and have a Master of Scence degree in endocrine pharmacology. I am a certified practitioner and professional in Change Management (Prosci), Project Management (PMP/PMI) and Social Media (OMCP, Online Marketing Certified Professional). So that makes my full title to be: Shirley Williams, MSc. PMP. CMC. OCMP. Having spent many years in the LifeSciences (you can check my career profile on Linkedin ) I have now directed my attention to bridging strategy and goals with social media. Loving it! In fact I am passionate about it. I have also produced and currently host my own internet radio show. My programs to-date have included Rise Of The Patient and Give Startups A Chance. I consider myself as an Experience Enabler. I facilitate and advocate for improved experience from the consumer perspective. Thank you for stopping by to check me out!

10 Responses to “30 Reasons Why Strategic Initiatives Fail”

  1. An excellent article and quite timely for an organisation I am currently involved with!

  2. Darn… If I could just figure out what on earth a “strategic initiative” is – I probably wouldn’t be in the jam I’m in.

    • Hi Mott!
      I know I have answered this question on G+ 🙂 But just in case others are wondering I will also paste my answer here:
      An initiative is like a critical program or collection of projects to address an overaching strategic goal. Some may just say it is a big project. My perspective is that it can be a combination of projects/tactics and possibly some stakeholder management.

      Thanks again! Thanks for sharing.


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