Even the most perfect execution cannot save a bad strategy. Conflicting goals with dedicated resources to disconnected targets lead to failure. Let’s not mistake goals for strategy. A bad strategy is just a statement of desire, wishes of outcome or fluff riddled with buzzwords, and not plans to overcome obstacles. I have seen it over and over again, lack of coherent strategy that does not coordinate policies and actions. Unfortunately what we tend to see is multiple objectives that are unconnected, or worse, conflicting with one another. Not realizing the difference between strategic goals and strategy, many strategies are restatements of buzzwords or slogans that lack thought and analysis.
Strategy starts with facing the problem. This enables the company to have an approach to overcome the obstacle. It should be looked as a response to a challenge. But if the challenge is not defined, the quality of the strategy cannot be determined. So how can you accept or reject a proposed strategy? By assessing, analyzing, and therefore recognizing the problem you can make an informed decision as to whether to rejecting a bad or flawed strategy, or to overcome the obstacle or achieve an objective.
Let’s look at bad strategic objectives. Have you heard of the term, “dog’s dinner?” It is a term that connotes: a mess or muddle. The challenge of a leader is to be the architect of the company’s strategic objectives and to avoid “dog’s dinner” objectives. This is not to designing actions to accomplish specific goals, but to coordinate clear objectives or sub-goals.
According to UCLA Professor Richard Rumelt (2011), leaders design sub-goals that various pieces of the organization work toward.
“The cutting edge of any strategy is the set of strategic objective (sub-goals) it lays out.”
It is about mastering this shift from having others defining your goals to you being the architect of the organization’s objectives as these are to carve the path to overcoming the defined obstacle. Such objectives align with the company’s mission and vision.
Remult, R. (2011). Good Strategy Bad Strategy. Crown Business, New York.