Seven management follies that threaten strategic success

V.K. Narayanan (Deloitte & Touché Stubbs Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, Associate Dean for Research and the Director of the Center for Research Excellence at the LeBow College of Business in Drexel University, Philadelphia)
Liam Fahey (Executive director of Leadership Forum Inc., an executive leadership education company (

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Publication date: 28 June 2013



The objective of the paper is to summarize major faults in the process that later lead to strategy failures. These faults, or follies as the authors term them, infect all stages of the strategy process and can be ameliorated through careful managerial attention and action.


These follies are interconnected, one building on another, but for the sake of exposition the authors treat them separately. They identify seven managerial follies dealing with purview, diagnosis, presumptions, direction, implementation, one‐way communication and willful blindness.


The authors describe and illustrate the follies with real life examples and argue that these follies can be ameliorated by habits of thought and institution of organizational routines, both levers that can be employed by executives.

Practical implications

Based on the authors' extensive experience, strategic failures are preventable if one avoids the seven follies. To kick start recognition and treatment of the follies, they summarize a set of questions to keep in mind as managers craft strategies.


For each folly, they outline how clear and specific habits of thought and organizational routines can mitigate the potential disastrous consequences of the folly.



Narayanan, V. and Fahey, L. (2013), "Seven management follies that threaten strategic success", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 24-29.

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