What if My Strategy Fails?

Results are never guaranteed when it comes to strategy. This might not be what you want to hear, but it’s important to know why a strategy can fail, how to prevent it, and what to do if it happens to you. It’ll make investing in strategy a whole lot easier, despite its inherent risk.


Why would a strategy fail?

There are three reasons a strategy might fail. The first is poor inputs, whereby the client has refused to offer insight or the strategist has failed to extract it. Without insight, we can’t validate the strategy. 

The second is poor processes, where activities led by the strategist focus on compiling thoughts and ideas instead of outlining any actionable steps. Without action, there will be no results.

The third reason is external events, where unexpected shifts in the market occur that alter supply or demand. Without people who are willing and able to buy into your offer, you have no business.

Arguably that last reason is the most challenging to overcome, but not impossible. If it were impossible, no business would’ve survived the COVID pandemic. None one saw that coming, but people learned to adapt out of necessity.


How to prevent a failed strategy

Start by selecting a qualified strategist. This can be tricky when it’s so easy for people to make false claims about their capabilities online, but those who regularly demonstrate their expertise through insightful content and project results are likely to be a safe bet.

Then there’s you. As a client, you’ll reap greater rewards from your strategist if you have moderate knowledge of your market and customer. Share what you know, and ensure you have permission to do so if necessary, but don’t guess. Your strategist will need accurate information from you in order to extract insights.

The last prevention measure you can take is to offer timeless value – something people will always want or need. The vehicle through which you deliver this value may change over time to adapt to new market conditions, but if people still want what you offer at a core level, you’ll be less susceptible to external events. The key is to define your brand by the value you create, not the type of product or service you offer. If you can deliver the same value in different ways, you’ll be able to adapt more easily.


What to do if your strategy fails

You may feel like you’ve blown your budget if you implement your strategy and it fails to be accepted by the market, but you can turn things around if you know what steps to take.

Believe it or not, it’s better to have a failed strategy than no strategy at all. Strategy enables action, and action will reward you with feedback. By studying your failure you can learn what not to do, and adapt your strategy accordingly. Sometimes failure is the very thing that reveals your winning idea, so make the most of it.

Without a strategy, you’ll avoid taking action. That’s a guaranteed failure. Feedback is reserved for those who act, so you may as well make a move – even if it’s the wrong one. Be grateful for the insights you uncover, and try again. A failed strategy will only be your downfall if you choose not to learn from it.