Strategic Management: Formulation and Implementation

Common Pitfalls Of Implementation

No matter how much effort companies invest in preparation and workshops organizations are invariably insufficiently prepared for the difficulties of implementing change. The responsibility for this situation lies in several areas:

Unrealistic portrayal of change process
Both the popular press and academic literature tend to consider organizational change as a stepbystep process leading to success. This unrealistic portrayal of change process can be dangerous, because authors misled managers, who find that the reality is far more daunting than they expected. Therefore, managers feel deceived. This kind of frustration is part of the terrain of change.
Unexpected forces
Those who makes change must also grapple with unexpected forces both inside and outside the organization. Shift in government regulations, union activisms, competitive assaults, product delays, mergers and acquisitions, and political and international crises are all a reality of corporate life today.

Studies examining the most common pitfalls of implementation document just these kinds of difficulties. For example, in one study of strategic business units in medium and largesized firms, respondents were asked to reflect on the implementation of recent strategic decision.

The survey results showed seven implementation problems that occurred in at least 60 percent of the responding firms, as follows:

  1. Implementation took more time than originally allocated.
  2. Major problems surfaced during implementation that had not been identified beforehand.
  3. Coordination of implementation activities (e.g., by task force, committees, superiors) was not effective enough.
  4. Competing activities and crises distracted attention from implementing this strategic decision.
  5. Capabilities (skill and abilities) of employees involved with the implementation were not sufficient.
  6. Training and instruction given to lowerlevel employees were not adequate.
  7. Uncontrollable factors in the external environment (e.g., competitive, economic, governmental) had an adverse impact on implementation.

Other frequent implementation shortcomings include: