Reasons Why Strategic Management Plans Fail

Strategic managers consider input from multiple sources before implementing new plans.
Strategic managers consider input from multiple sources before implementing new plans. (Image: Planning Meeting image by Mike Price from

Strategic management is a systematic approach to identifying and pursuing opportunities to gain competitive advantages. Strategic plans guide organizations in nearly everything they do, from product development to hiring practices, developing a clear and unique path to success for each organization. Strategic plans are never guaranteed to succeed; understanding the common reasons why strategic management plans fail can help you to avoid the most common pitfalls.

Limited Scope

Failing to consider the full range of variables, requirements and stakeholders involved in strategic plans can limit success or lead to failure. Avoid the trap of getting sucked in to the logical flow of your ideas by taking the time to brainstorm contingencies and possible challenges you may face during strategic plan implementation. Ask others to help you to list issues that could throw a wrench in the works of your plan, and create contingency plans to address a wide range of possibilities. Consider all stakeholders that will be affected by plan implementation, and try to determine what issues may arise for them throughout the process.


The leadership variable can go far to influence the success or failure of strategic plans. Without visionary leadership from a trusted individual, the employees involved in implementing a strategic plan can be under-informed, unmotivated and even resistant to new initiatives. Formal leaders must also be informal leaders in your organization -- meaning your employees must trust them and look to them for motivation and guidance, rather than simply for direction.

Effective leaders can take charge in strategic initiatives, ensuring everyone involved knows their roles and how they fit into the larger picture, and that all employees have the tools and motivation they need to succeed.


Strategic plans can be destined to failure from the outset if they are not planned meticulously and thoroughly. Aside from considering the externalities and contingencies mentioned above, strategic plans must thoroughly address a range of vital issues, including budgeting, labor scheduling and time constraints. Strategic planners who do not spend adequate time considering all of the possible costs to account for in their budgets can find their plans derailed when money runs out. The same holds true for plans that come up short in labor, or which do not consider the total time requirements of each element.


Regardless of how thorough a strategic plan may be and how effective its leaders, everyone involved in bringing strategic plans to reality needs to truly believe in the initiative if it is to succeed. Strategic plans that are dictated from above are much more likely to fail than those that consider input from all levels of an organization, especially those who will be asked to implement the plan. Achieving buy-in for an idea that was created in a locked boardroom can be challenging; allowing strategic goals to develop from the ground up achieves near automatic buy-in on the front line.

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