As you read in the course introduction, great companies with great products can misstep in their strategy with catastrophic (or at least long-term negative) consequences to their sustainability and future growth. As you come to the end of your MBA degree, you have studied successful and unsuccessful businesses and examined the reasons that could explain the causes for each outcome. As you begin your studies in this course, take some time to think back to those examples or consider other examples through history or those which are receiving media attention today. There is much to learn from success, and arguably even more we can learn from failure.
To prepare for this Discussion:
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A contributor to the Forbes business blog noted in 2011 that there appeared to be 10 major reasons that strategies and strategic plans might fail:
- Having a plan simply for plans sake. Some organizations go through the motions of developing a plan simply because common sense says every good organization must have a plan. Don’t do this. Just like most everything in life, you get out of a plan what you put in. If you’re going to take the time to do it, do it right.
- Not understanding the environment or focusing on results. Planning teams must pay attention to changes in the business environment, set meaningful priorities, and understand the need to pursue results.
- Partial commitment. Business owners/CEOs/presidents must be fully committed and fully understand how a strategic plan can improve their enterprise. Without this knowledge, it’s tough to stay committed to the process.
- Not having the right people involved. Those charged with executing the plan should be involved from the onset. Those involved in creating the plan will be committed to seeing it through execution.
- Writing the plan and putting it on the shelf. This is as bad as not writing a plan at all. If a plan is to be an effective management tool, it must be used and reviewed continually. Unlike Twinkies or a fine vino, strategic plans don’t have a good shelf life.
- Unwillingness or inability to change. Your company and your strategic plan must be nimble and able to adapt as market conditions change.
- Having the wrong people in leadership positions. Management must be willing to make the tough decisions to ensure the right individuals are in the right leadership positions. The “right” individuals include those who will advocate for and champion the strategic plan and keep the company on track.
- Ignoring marketplace reality, facts, and assumptions. Don’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to marketplace realities, and don’t discount potential problems because they have not had an immediate impact on your business yet. Plan in advance and you’ll be ready when the tide comes in.
- No accountability or follow through. Be tough once the plan is developed and resources are committed and ensure there are consequences for not delivering on the strategy.
- Unrealistic goals or lack of focus and resources. Strategic plans must be focused and include a manageable number of goals, objectives, and programs. Fewer and focused is better than numerous and nebulous. Also be prepared to assign adequate resources to accomplish those goals and objectives outlined in the plan.
For this shared practice, identify a company that you are interested in, and that either has had a successful strategy or has had a failing strategy (or both).
Post by Day 4 your response to the following:
- Identify a company that demonstrated a successful winning strategy or experienced a strategy failure and briefly describe the circumstances in enough detail to communicate what happened.
- Using the framework offered in the Forbes blog post above, identify the potential reason(s) why the organization experienced success (by examining how the strategy enabled the company to avoid one or more of the pitfalls that can lead to failure) or failure.
- If you think that there were other reasons beyond the Forbes list, then identify those also!
General Guidance: Your original post, due by Day 4, will typically be 3–4 paragraphs in length, single-spaced, as a general expectation/estimate. Refer to the Week 1 Discussion 2 rubric for grading elements and criteria. Your Instructor will use the rubric to assess your work.
To complete your Discussion, click on Discussions on the course navigation menu, and then click on the Week 1 Forum to begin.
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