From Change Management to Change Mastery
Organizational Synergy through Empowerment and Teamwork

Strategy Gaps and Change Management Failure: An Insight

Mind the gap 123rf com_39898905_sDo you have a strategy-execution gap? This may not be something you would readily admit, even to yourself. But, please pause for a moment and consider the question deeply, seriously and honestly.

I suspect that if you were to do so, you will find the question more difficult than it seems. The term “strategy-execution” implies that:

  • Strategy has two distinct parts – planning and execution; and
  • Execution can be more difficult than planning.

This makes strategy a journey and not a destination. More significantly, though, it is not a journey you control.  And that is why you will find a continuing focus on controls counter-productive. Just as insisting on adherence to a particular, pre-planned route can result in reaching your destination long after you needed to be there, when finding alternative routes would have enabled you to by-pass problems and delays and arrive in time.

You could rephrase Von Maltke’s statement that “No battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy” and say that “no strategic plan survives the first contact with people.” This means:
  1. You need to be prepared to constantly re-evaluate your strategy, according to the situations you encounter, in order to ensure it is appropriate, relevant and achievable;
  2. You have to ensure that people “in the field” have the tactical tools and the capability to respond. This is basically giving them “sat-nav” to make the journey easier and help ensure they arrive in the right place at the right time.

The importance of people is, belatedly being given the prominence it warrants, as this HBR article Closing the Strategy-Execution Gap Means Focusing on What Employees Think, Not What They Do illustrates. Unfortunately, I am not sure it emphasises the fact that not doing so is tantamount to committing organizational suicide in today’s fast-paced, rapidly changing, competitive environment.

The article highlights the fact that the executives surveyed all identified employee interaction – the failure to work together to make change happen – as the biggest barrier in strategy-execution. This implies an intrinsic link between strategy execution and change management. If over 70% of change management projects fail to achieve their objectives, as in generally agreed – despite all the effort put into change management – then it is likely that your strategy efforts are also failing. Now ask yourself about your strategy-execution gap!

It is also interesting that when focusing their attention on strategy-execution, the executives surveyed “overwhelmingly prioritized redefining organizational structures, realigning decision authorities (governance), and reinventing processes.”  All of these activities are cumbersome, time-consuming and morale-destroying and thus are more like prescribing the route rather than giving employees the sat-nav they need. And the inadequacy of such change initiatives is that you keep changing them, which means that you never identify how badly they are affecting you.

If you are serious about realising and releasing the potential of your people you would do far better to put an end to all your reorganising, realigning and reinventing efforts and instead look at solutions – such as my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model™ - to safeguard your strategic efforts and secure your success.  It will go a long way to creating the environment depicted in the article.  


If you like what you have read contact me today to discuss how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model could help you value your people and provide the catalyst to help you create an organic culture where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, embedding continuous improvement that engenders ‘love at work’ and transforms – and sustains – organic business performance.


Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.


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