You create a great business strategy. You just know it’s going to take you to market leadership and a big bottom-line result.
Six months later you’re feeling like you’re pushing on a rope. But you just know everything will come into sync soon.
A year later, you’ve tried everything. Your brilliant strategy has gone nowhere. You’re wondering what the hell happened. You know that your ideas were brilliant. You know your product offering is right for your buyers. So why isn’t it working?
70 percent of business strategies fail for the same reasons.
Welcome to the Gap
I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses to create breakout strategies. Whether a startup, a growth company, or a turnaround, the problems with strategies are always the same. I call it the Gap. Actually, there are a few Gaps. These Gaps are the reason the majority of business strategies fail. But don’t fret. Every one of these gaps is the result of being human. We all have them. The real question is whether we step up to solve them?
Let’s take a look at the 3 biggest gaps that limit strategic success:
1. The reality gap
This gap is a byproduct of the way our minds work. We each view reality in our own unique way. No two realities are the same. That said, when we group together in a business, we begin to create a shared reality, based on what the group (aka the herd) believes to be true. We all sit in the same rooms and agree to the reality of our markets, our buyers’ needs, and our competitor’s weaknesses. This shared reality forms the basis of our strategic assumptions. The problem is this: Our shared reality often doesn’t match the reality external to our group or business. Which means the fundamentals of our strategy are out of sync with our markets and buyers.
2. The learning gap
This gap is caused by a paradox. Expertise and knowledge is what we need to define great strategies. Yet that same expertise is what prevents us from defining true breakout strategies. Why? Because we limit the options and opportunities we recognize based on what we already know. Our expertise narrows the range of new options and opportunities we can see, hear or think about.
That same expertise causes us to ignore or throw out potentially lucrative options because they don’t match our known truths. That means we create strategies based on a subset of the options and opportunities available to us. Our strategies often miss the mark when it comes to new markets and opportunities.
3. The change gap
Then there’s the biggest gap of all: the change gap. This gap is created by resistance to change. We’ve all seen it: Leaders get excited about a new strategy. We take it to our teams and the next thing we know, the donkeys come out. Feet dug in, hanging onto the way we’ve always done it. This resistance to change is the biggest reason even great strategies fail. While we give lip service to the new, we hang onto the old. That great strategy is never fully executed because we can’t change the direction of the organization. But it’s not our fault. The resistance to change is also part of being human. It’s a condition called the “status quo bias” and it impacts every human on the planet.
Bridging the gaps
The great news is that we can all learn how to fill these gaps. And that’s just what we’ll talk about doing in the next post on this topic, appearing here in March.
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