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Bruce Holland

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I used to think of myself as someone who helped senior managers in mostly large organisations determine the strategies required to make them more focused, fast and flexible. Today, I still help during this conceptual stage but I spend even more time helping managers implement their strategies because this is where most people fail. When it comes to strategy, research shows that 76% fail at the implementation stage, not the conceptual stage.

The issue

The world is changing. Old ways are no longer working. Companies that follow the old rules are failing both in New Zealand and throughout the world. In New Zealand think of Air New Zealand and Tower. Throughout the world, think of United Airlines, Anderson Consulting and many others.

The message is starting to get through, today many C.E.O.s know they need to make their organisations at least as flexible as the market place is unpredictable. In my terms it needs to be more like a beanbag than a tower.

Some C.E.O.s react to the situation out of fear, determined to reinvent their companies before someone else does it for them. They join every bandwagon, force their managers and employees to learn the latest management fad or technology solution. Most of it is unplanned. Most of it is piecemeal. Most of it is a waste of money.

Other C.E.O.s act with much more integrity and rationality, but even some of the best managers have problems, especially in taking the step from planning to doing. Recently different C.E.O.s, all of whom I would rate as some of the best, have made the following statements to me. Do any of these statements ring true to you?

  1. "We know what we need to do, but we don't seem to have the ability to make it happen."

  2. "I dont know whether we can justify another strategic offsite. I know we'll just come up with the same old stuff again. It's application where we need help".

  3. "We need to put some rubber on the road".

  4. "The 14 inches from the head to the heart is a long, long journey".

  5. "It's not that people don't want to do it, they just don't know how".

Most strategies fail during implementation

The sad fact is, seventy six percent of change programs fail - see research by Tom Tierney & Sarabjit Singh Baveja. For example, in a recent year $32 billion was spent in the US alone on reengineering programs - and yet Michael Hammer, the most prominent reengineering guru of them all, estimated that fully $20 billion of that $32 billion was wasted! This is depressing news at a time when more and more companies face upheaval. And it's certainly in line with my own findings. Most strategies fail and they usually fail during implementation.

The next few snippets will deal with why strategies fail during implementation and what you can do to improve your success rate.

Keep tuned!


Bruce Holland

Helps large organisations be focussed, fast and flexible. Places where people have more meaning, depth and connection.

Expert in Strategy, Structure, Culture and Leadership Development.

One of NZs most experienced change agents.

Liberating the Human Spirit at Work

Key words: strategy, strategies, business strategy, business strategies, strategy management, strategic management, strategy development, implementation.

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