Why Is Strategy Implementation Often Considered the Most Difficult Stage in Strategic Management?

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According to a quote often attributed to Yogi Berra, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice, there is.” Strategic implementation is so difficult because it is much easier to draw up a list of ideas that should hypothetically work than it is to make those ideas a reality. As soon as you try to translate theory into practice, numerous difficulties start to arise.

Keep It Simple

A small-business owner may tend to think of strategy as something that applies only to much larger enterprises. In effect, this means that any small-business owner with the foresight to develop and implement a good strategy will have a clear advantage. Simple common-sense plans are likely to be easier to successfully implement and much more likely to be realistic than complex and detailed strategies. Individual managers and employees can slow or even prevent the implementation of a strategy they do not fully embrace or understand. If managers and employees perceive a strategy as unrealistic, they may ignore it or alter it or delay its implementation.

Designing a Strategy

A good strategic plan for a small business should simply identify all the competitive opportunities you can think of, all the obstacles or risks you can think of, the resources you have available, and some clear ideas for how to match your resources to your obstacles and opportunities. For instance, a large chain store in direct competition with your business would be an obstacle or risk. The ability to offer more personalized service than the chain store would be an opportunity. Employees with local knowledge and good personal contacts in the area would be a resource. The key to using this resource effectively would be getting your employees to really believe in the plan and the business, so they willingly make use of their personal connections to help you offer a level of service the chain store can't match.

Involve Your Employees

People sometimes find changes in their routine upsetting, and may try to keep policies and procedures from changing solely to prevent the anxiety of implementing a new way of doing things. If they think of working for you as a job like any other, they may not be motivated to help you implement your strategy. If they identify personally with the success of the business, they will put in the extra effort to succeed. To implement a new business strategy, you must give your employees a sense of personal responsibility for it. Involve your most trusted employees in strategic planning and take their feedback seriously. Their input will improve your plans, and they will be much more motivated to make your ideas a reality.

Providing Resources

No strategy can successfully be implemented without the resources needed to support it. If you design a strategic framework but then fail to give your employees what they need to make it happen, they will not be able to do so. All plans should be tailored to whatever resources are actually available. For instance, you probably won't get very far with an ambitious marketing campaign if you try to simultaneously save money by cutting your advertising budget. The lack of advertising would only undercut the marketing plan. Lack of resources is the primary reason for the failure of strategic management plans.

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