Why Strategic Goals Are Not Achieved

It’s the start of a new year with new budgets and plans; and the air filled with a renewed sense of opportunity. All too often, organizations fall short on the previous year’s planned initiatives and skip into the new year without reflecting on what happened. Shortcomings can be caused by events out of one’s control. There are common management errors, however, that cause plans to fall short. What follows are a few of my favorites:

  • Strategic goals were not expanded into SMART task lists with a name assigned to each task. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. It should never be assumed that individuals will assume responsibility for a task without being asked. Also, the expectations for each task need to be “crystal-clear.” Management needs to pay particular attention to the Attainable element. Setting too many goals for the resource available guarantees some objectives will not be met.
  • Initiatives are not properly prioritized throughout the organization. Strategic initiatives often compete for the same resource that is responsible for turning revenue each month. My experience is that strategic is always trumped by the pragmatic. It is also important that personal and department incentives are compatible with achieving the strategic goal.
  • Inadequate management review of strategic goals. Reviews can uncover a number of issues before they derail the plan. It is important to assure that communication across departments is providing compatible priorities and smooth handoff of input for the next task. Sometimes organizations will discover through implementation of the task list that the perceived opportunity of the goal is not what was previously envisioned and communicated to stakeholders. It is important that management identify the contingency plan on a timely basis to preserve the credibility of the planning process.
  • Management insensitivity to change. Critical goals usually introduce significant change to an organization. It is vital that the goal be sold to every level of the organization and that objections be properly listened to. Employee engagement is an invaluable means to improving and accelerating achievement of the goal.
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2 thoughts on “Why Strategic Goals Are Not Achieved

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