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July 2010
Top 5 Reasons Why Strategic Initiatives Fail and a Way to Make Success Visible
By Patrick Sullivan

     We have all found ourselves, at one time or another, lamenting the “what ifs” after a great new strategic initiative comes charging out of the gates only to lose momentum and eventually fall into a ditch dying a slow quiet death. It happens in every company. The interesting part is it happens less frequently in some companies than in others. Do they avoid or minimize the pursuit of new initiatives? Do they take some magical approach to driving initiatives?

     In these increasingly tough economic times, companies are not afforded the luxury of avoiding new initiatives. They are either getting better or they are falling behind, so the answer is obviously the approach they’re taking. Let’s take a quick look at the top 5 reasons why strategic initiatives fail and what companies can do to help keep initiatives out of the ditch.

     According to a recent study performed by Industry Week, the top 5 factors that are common elements of a failed initiative are:

1. Strategy is not clearly communicated to the stakeholders

2. Lack of support by key leaders in the organization

3. Decision-makers do not understand the relevance or are unable to measure progress

4. Lack of impact on employee compensation

5. Technology needed for implementation is not available

     It comes as no surprise that these items will spell doom for most any initiative. It doesn’t have to be all of the items together either. A single setback in any one of these areas can knock an initiative right off of its tracks. If you are going through the efforts of researching, funding and implementing a new initiative, you certainly want to put a system in place to help ensure its success.

     An excellent tool to use is called Dashboarding. Dashboarding is taking key metrics associated with your strategic initiative and displaying them in easily digested information. With Dashboarding you are taken through the process of identifying metrics that quantify success.

     If you had to narrow down the Key Operating Indicators around the initiative to a handful, what would they be?  Now let’s put them in an easy to read and understand format that will be visible to everyone. As this dashboard is updated and distributed on a regular basis it keeps the initiative fresh and allows you to measure your success on an ongoing basis. In a word, it is POWERFUL!

     In summary, continue to roll out great new initiatives as they are needed to insure your companies continued growth and success. Just remember, using Dashboarding as a tool to avoid the common elements of “initiative failure” will keep you out of the ditch and headed straight to the bank.

     Content contributed by NouvEON, a management consulting firm. For complete white paper on Dashboarding, visit www.nouveon.com/dashboarding whitepaper.pdf. To contact NouvEON’s Dashboarding expert, e-mail him at psullivan@nouveon.com or follow on Twitter@NouvEON.

Patrick Sullivan is Managing Consultant and Process Excellence Knowledge Domain in U.S. Consulting Division of hiSoft Technology International Limited
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