In a simple way, strategy implementation can be defined as a process through which a chosen strategy is put into action. Though this definition is very simple but does not specify what
action are required in strategy implementation. To elaborate the issues and activities involved in strategy formulation, let us consider other definitions. Steineretal have defined strategy implementation as follows:
“The implementation of policies and strategies is concerned with the design and management of systems to achieve the best integration of people, structures, processes, and resources, in
reaching organisational purposes.”1 McCarthy et al have defined strategy implementation as follows:
“Strategy implementation may be said to consist of securing resources, organizing these resources and directing the use of these resources within and outside the organizations.”
Factors causing unsuccessful implementation of strategy
Before going into the details of how a chosen strategy is implemented, it is desirable to identify the factors which cause unsuccessful implementation of strategy so that managers can
take adequate safeguard against these, factors. These factors are of following types:
1. Unsatisfactory coupling of strategy and operational actions.
2. Insufficient attention to the negotiation of outcomes in decision situations, and
3. Defective strategy.
1. Unsatisfactory Coupling of Strategy and Actions
Unsatisfactory coupling of the strategy to the actions necessary to implement it, both within the organization and in the external decision situations with which it is concerned may cause
unsuccessful implementation of the strategy. This type of difficulty can result from a number of causes and conditions. For example, unsatisfactory coupling of the new strategy may be due to the lack of explicit decoupling from previous strategy and commitment within the organization itself. This decoupling may be caused, in turn, by the existence of a sizable group of people within the organization who are convinced that the new strategy is not practical and that the previous ways and activities are best. Another factor responsible for this unsatisfactory coupling may be misperceptions by the strategist of the impact of the newly proposed initiatives on the organization and its people. It is sometimes assumed that the new initiatives will be accepted by the organization with a minimum of time and effort from all those who are involved. In actual practice, however, much more work is necessary to ensure that the strategy is accepted and implemented than to prepare it in the first instance. Another reason for unsuccessful coupling may be because of different perspective of strategists and implementers. In most cases, majority of people are concerned with the current operations. Their primary task is to ensure that these operations are conducted smoothly and efficiently. Their perspective is involved with the avoidance of change and of other factors that could interfere with the operations in their area of responsibility. Strategists, on the other hand, seek out changes and determine whether it can be used to the advantage of the organization. These different perspectives can result in the two groups becoming alienated from each other. For successful implementation of the strategy, a link between these two groups is necessary.
2. Insufficient Attention
Another major factor causing unsuccessful implementation of the strategy is insufficient attention to the negotiation of outcomes in the external decision situations. It is a tendency to assume, once the strategy is formulated, that all that is necessary for the success of the organization is the aggressive pursuit of the strategy. However, this assumption holds good only as long as there is no change in the decision situations. If these situations change, there should be corresponding change in the strategy also. For this, it is essential that the structure of the strategic decision situations in which the organization is involved should be kept clearly in view throughout the implementation. If this is done, changes in the conditions surrounding those decision situations can be taken in stride. Contingency strategy made during the strategy formulation process can be brought into operation when appropriate.
3. Defective Strategy
Sometimes, there may be strategy which cannot be implemented within the context of present and future organizational resources. Perhaps, everyone of us may be aware about ‘who
will bell the cat’. The story goes like this. Perturbed with the sudden attack of the cat, a community of rats called a meeting to overcome this problem. In the meeting, an elder rat suggested, “bell the cat so that whenever she comes, we shall escape on hearing the sound of the bell.” On this, a younger rat asked, “who will bell the cat ? Pat came the reply from the elder rat, “strategic decision making is my role implementation is yours”. Though this a jest side of the situation, many organizations follow this pattern in their strategy formulation and implementation process. The net result is that either strategy is denounced half way or put in cold storage incurring loss in both the situations. Therefore, strategic choice should always be cqrrelated with the organizational capability to implement it. While implementing a strategy, the above factors should be taken into account and various tools of strategy implementation should be selected carefully to ensure effective implementation.