Larry Alexander studied problems of strategy implementation in medium en large US firms. He determined problems that occurred most frequently while implementing a strategic decision (1985).
Ten most frequent strategy implementation problems:
- Implementation took more time than originally allocated
- Major problems surfaced during implementation that had not been identified beforehand
- Coordination of implementation was not effective enough
- Competing activities and crises distracted attention from implementing this decision
- Capabilities of employees involved were not sufficient
- Training and instruction given to lower level employees were not adequate
- Uncontrollable factors in the external environment had an adverse impact on implementation
- Leadership and direction provided by departmental managers were not adequate enough
- Key implementation tasks and activities were not defined in enough detail
- Information systems used to monitor implementation activities were not adequate
In order of frequency of substantial / major problems.
Companies that were most successful in implementing strategic decisions experienced five new problems.
- Inadequate communication by top management
- Inactive role of formulators of strategic decision makers in implementation
- Unclear roles and responsibilities of key employees
- Lack of understanding of overall goals of strategic decisions by employees
- Supporters of strategic decision have left the organization during implementation
O’Regan and Ghobadian studied small and medium sized UK firms in electronic and engineering sectors (2007). They identified in- and external barriers to strategic planning implementation.
Eight major barriers limiting strategic planning implementation:
- Inadequate communication
- Implementation took longer than anticipated
- Shortfall in employee capabilities
- Overall goals of strategy not well enough understood by staff
- Co-ordination of implementation nog effective enough
- Crisis distracted attention from implementation
- Unanticipated external problems
- External factors impacted on implementation.
The last three elements can be overlapping; are not mutually exclusive.
Beer and Eisenstat studied senior US management. They identified six key barriers to strategy implementation (2000).
Six barriers to strategy implementation:
- Top down or laissez-faire senior management style
- Unclear strategy and conflicting priorities
- An ineffective senior management team
- Poor vertical communications
- Poor co-ordination across functions, business or borders
- Inadequate down-the-line leadership skills and development.
Alexander L. Successfully implementing strategic decisions. Long Range Planning 1985; 18 (3): 91-97.
Beer M. Eisenstat R. The silent killers of strategy implementation and learning. Sloan Management Review 2000; 41 (4): 29-40.
O’Regan N. Ghobadian A. Formal strategic planning:annual raindance or wheel of success, Strategic Change 2007; 16: 11-22.