Five Barriers to Successful Strategy Execution and How to Overcome Them

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Most high-performing companies today understand the value of establishing a business strategy to drive how they do their work. But how successful are they at translating their strategies into effective and tangible results? It turns out that while a large majority of executives agree on the importance of strategy, only a small percentage are rated excellent at execution.1

By understanding common barriers to successful strategy execution, leaders of project-based work can take meaningful steps to overcome the challenges that exist within their organizations.

Common Barriers to Strategy Execution

Five Barriers to Strategy Execution

Following is a list of common obstacles that impede organizations from executing their strategies:

1. Lack of a dynamic learning environment

Executing strategy in today’s business environment requires a learning mindset, both from individuals and the organization at large. By conducting “lessons learning” (rather than “lessons learned”), we can diagnose and solve problems throughout the entire project life cycle, rather than only at the end.

2. Project-based work leaders exhibit no strategic leadership presence

Project leaders at all levels should exhibit active listening and leadership skills, in addition to technical expertise. As a leader, being able to communicate the strategy to your team and stakeholders is as important as the tactical work.

3. Organizational structures and processes are inflexible, not agile

Today’s business environment is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). In a constantly changing setting, our processes need to be dynamic and flexible to match. Even if your company’s overall culture is not as quick to adapt, you can still foster an agile mindset within teams and projects by creating a flatter and more efficient process for decision-making and escalation.

4.  Silos inhibit communication across the organization

Many teams are cross-functional by necessity. But even if they’re not, intentionally working collaboratively across departments can help break down silos to enable open communication across the organization. Standardizing methods, language, and processes across teams can facilitate more efficient execution on common projects.

5. Misalignment of portfolio to strategy

Projects must be prioritized against the overall strategy. Project leaders and team members should be able to articulate the expected results of a project and how it aligns with the strategy. Without this alignment, resources, time, energy, and effort are wasted on activities that do not contribute to the larger organizational goals.

Do any of these challenges ring true within your organization? Learn more about how to overcome these barriers to achieve successful strategy execution.

Strategy Execution Knowledge Center

PMI Pulse of the Profession: The High Cost of Low Performance, February 2014

TwentyEighty Strategy Execution is a global leader in project-focused training, enabling people to close the strategy execution gap and drive higher performance by strengthening relational and technical skills. By combining the best of cutting-edge university research and proven business techniques, we deliver training designed to increase alignment and engagement across teams, business units, or the entire enterprise. Learn more today at Join the conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook

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TwentyEighty Strategy Execution, the global authority in project leadership training, equips your people with the complete package of technical and leadership skills — the mindset, adaptability,
and expertise to lead and execute projects in any context. With curricula in adaptive strategic execution, project management, business analysis, contract management, and more, Strategy Execution partners with your organization to build skill sets and change mindsets. It’s time to declare a new standard of performance. For more information, visit
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