In general, strategic plans can fail for two types of reasons: inappropriate strategy and poor execution.

Inappropriate or ineffective strategies can occur due to:

  • Failure to define objectives correctly
  • Incomplete SWOT analysis with respect to the desired objectives
  • Lack of creativity in identifying possible strategies
  • Strategies incapable of obtaining the desired objective
  • Poor fit between the external environment and organizational resources – infeasibility

More often than not, however, it’s not that the strategic plans fail – it’s theexecution that fails.

Here are some common reasons how or why execution falls short of the strategic plan:

  • Over-estimation of resources and abilities
  • Under-estimation of time, personnel, or financial requirements
  • Failure to coordinate
  • Ineffective attempts to gain the support of others or resistance
  • Failure to follow the plan
  • Loss of senior management focus and continued sponsorship
  • Inability to predict reactions from competitors
  • Over-estimation of resource competence
  • Poor communications
  • Failure to manage change
  • Lack of focus

BOTTOMLINE: Failure to execute (following the plan) is the primary reason why strategic plans fail.