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Translating strategy into effective implementation: dispelling the myths and highlighting what works

John Sterling (John Sterling is a partner and co‐founder of Smock Sterling – Strategic Management Consultants, located in Lake Forest, Illinois ( The firm specializes in strategic planning and management. Sterling’s previous Strategy & Leadership case study (Vol. 30 No. 6, November/December 2002) explained how Rubicon Technology, a high tech start‐up, successfully practices strategic focus.)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 1 June 2003



Several reasons are frequently offered to explain (or to justify) failure to implement strategy. Some are valid but many have merely gained credibility from being repeated often. By discrediting the myths, we can more clearly look at a number of approaches that can greatly enhance the effectiveness of strategy implementation. There are seven key reasons for strategy failure. Unanticipated market changes – strategies can fail because the market conditions change before the strategy can take hold. Three preventative actions are cited: (1) effective competitor responses to strategy – to out‐perform the competition, competitive intelligence is a must; (2) too little investment – if insufficient resources are applied, the strategy will fail. Modeling will aid the executive to make smarter deployment of limited resources; and (3) failure of buy‐in – insufficient buy‐in to or understanding of the strategy among those who need to implement it will cause failure. Good strategic management is a function of people actively considering the strategy as they make day‐to‐day decisions in an ever‐changing world. Lack of focus – resources are wastefully dissipated if priorities are unclear. Put the strategy on one page: focus to execute. Poorly conceived business models – sometimes strategies are simply bad.



Sterling, J. (2003), "Translating strategy into effective implementation: dispelling the myths and highlighting what works", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 27-34.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

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