Open navigation

Zehn Umsetzungsschwächen

8 July 2021

Ten implementation weaknesses that cause our strategies to fail

Most organizations do not have a problem with insights, strategies or ideas; the stumbling block comes with the implementation. Weakness in this area is a human failing that has always existed. In the past, it was not really a problem, because whether a product was launched a few months later than planned or not, whether the costs were slightly higher than planned or whether another competing supplier came along in the meantime was not of decisive importance in a competitive comparison. Major market changes were announced in good time and took place at a more leisurely pace, and the slices of the pie were big enough – if not for everyone, then at least for most of the competing suppliers.

Things are very different today:

Established markets are increasingly saturated, traditional competitive boundaries are becoming more and more blurred due to technologization and globalization, and not only business models but even entire industries are disappearing, with new ones often emerging almost overnight.

Agony of choice intensifies to torture level

These changes to the business environment, which come about as the result of a comprehensive upheaval in living and working conditions throughout the world and in society, have two drastic effects:

Whereas in the past there were only a limited number of alternative courses of action in a more or less predictable world, in which those with the necessary skills and a modicum of luck could pick the best opportunities, the situation is completely different today. We used to call it the “agony of choice”, but it was something we still had a good grip on. Today, that choice has almost become torture: an inexhaustible number of opportunities, but also great risks, because the market is less and less forgiving of bad decisions.

Zehn Umsetzungsschwächen

Image: AdobeStock alphaspirit

The consequences of this are as follows:

In the past, if we had a great strategy at the start and were less ingenious in its implementation than in its design, things usually worked out OK because other players with worse ideas were no faster than us. That situation has changed fundamentally:

If you fail on the criterion of speed, you will ruin your brilliant ideas.

It is therefore important to overcome the implementation weaknesses that have always existed. The fact that they can largely be traced back to basic human emotional patterns does not mean that we can hope for leniency in a competitive environment.

Know the enemy you want to defeat!

Before you can fight an enemy, you have to know him. This is particularly difficult in the case of implementation weakness because many of its behaviors have been with us since forever and seem absolutely normal to us. The following list is my personal selection of the ten biggest enemies of implementation. Only those organizations capable of defeating them can establish themselves among the front-runners; otherwise, they are doomed to remain among the chasing pack forever.

Ten implementation weaknesses that must be overcome

  1. Focus on activity

Senior management become preoccupied with the “how” instead of the “why” and the “what”. The “how” is the activities, plans and milestones (how are we going to do it?) that fail after a short time because circumstances change decisively and quickly. The “why” and the “what” are our goals and the future reality in which these goals become reality. These are the only things that matter.

  1. Perfectionism

Numerous aspects that are not relevant to value creation take up resources, and areas of action are not productively defined from the outset.

  1. Pseudo priorities

If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Furthermore, managers generally prioritize incorrectly because they do not do those things first that will have the greatest impact in achieving the desired outcome.

  1. Anemia

A general lack of understanding among the people in the organization that high implementation performance is an emotional rather than a rational matter.

  1. Never-ending stories

Projects are designed incorrectly and become resource-guzzling permanent burdens that never come to an end.

  1. The Wild Wild West

A culture of unreliability and lack of commitment, where many promises are made but few are actually kept.

  1. Prisons of experience

Routine and professionalism are both good and bad! When it comes to implementation performance, it is often not the fastest, best and easiest way that is chosen, but the old familiar one.

“Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so many people (...) prefer to remain immature throughout their lives; and why it is so easy for others to become their guardians. It is thus convenient to be immature.”

– Immanuel Kant –

  1. Convenience

Man is lazy and cowardly (see Kant), but it is the inconvenient things that help us move forward quickly.

  1. Addiction to harmony

Appreciation and dignity are often confused with harmony. Friction is indispensable for exceptional implementation strength!

  1. Ego

The implementation killer par excellence is the ego of each individual. Only those who are committed to management beyond ego and live by its principles have a real chance of becoming the market leader through excellence in speed of implementation.

I am by no means suggesting that all of the above must necessarily be the enemies of implementation. Perhaps you can add a few more yourself. If so, please let the other readers and me know.

If you would like to find out more about how we can overcome our implementation weaknesses and establish a performance culture worthy of the name, I recommend two tried and tested remedies: firstly, my new book Management beyond Ego. Leading Teams to Success in the New World of Work and secondly, my whitepaper Secrets of Execution No. 15: Stop Starting! Start Finishing! which you can download here free of charge.


Matthias Kolbusa

Privacy settings

*necessary data

Customise country