Building Workable and Sustainable Strategies and Niches – Why many Fail?


Strategies are statements of intent – a journey of purpose and how to get there, successfully anticipating obstacles and avoiding them. This is whether corporate or personal – yes, personal. Some just think strategies are only corporate. We all need one. Strategies were “once defined as the art of planning and directing large military movements and operations of war”.

Strategies often are long-term projects needing clarity of purpose and a well-defined map to success. This requires good thinking and strategic minds. Some minds are better at this if allowed to flourish in your organization. Some organizations suppress such minds as too excited or cerebral. A leader’s job is to identify such minds or potentially so and nature them. A study reveals that it is difficult to get ten percent of such ones in an organization. It does not have to be the CEO or top Management – it may just be a smart ICT staff or any line staff somewhere, that could be key to a major change.

Research units of a system are critical. Some organizations, sadly do not deem it fit to have one. If available, funding the unit is seen as a mere cost Centre. In Nigeria, when you get thrown into a research department, it is meant to be ‘punishment’, or a place to silence you. This is sad, as these are quantum opportunities missed to create niches and strategic values that could reposition the organization. Data analysis, demographics, technologies, cultures, etc., have hidden identifiable opportunities to carve a niche or reposition market share.

The ability to differentiate short-term and long-term thinking, and striking a balance are an integral part of strategies and this differentiates true leaders. This is the unison between vision and mission. Vision is the end destination and mission defines the vehicle and pathways, or a delicate blend between long and short goals to arrive at the destination point. Some leaders, and organizations allow short-term goals or achievements to consume the energies required for long-term strategies and objectives.

Many strategies fail because they were not strategies in the first place; they are just intentions. Defined paths are unclear, and responsibilities are hazy. Thus, the need for a timetable and a time-keeper cannot be over-emphasized. Defined action lines, responsible officers, delivery timelines, monitoring and control, and the entire project Manager responsible for reporting progress and challenges must be put in place. The SMART acronym must apply here – must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Frequent updates on successes and deviations are critical to successful implementation. It is good to acknowledge mileage covered, but suspend celebrations until the destination is achieved. It is a continuous iterative process until goals and objectives are achieved.

Key people involvement is imperative. And, involving them early is equally very important. This is not a situation of favouritism. Choosing only those who can deliver into critical positions is essential. They need to ‘mentally own’ the projects and be passionate about them to deliver on determined mileages. A known track record of delivery should help.

Further, investing in the capabilities is extremely vital. The human resources required do not only need to be acquired but maintained and sustained. An internal knowledge sharing and domiciliation system and infrastructure are good for the sustenance of drive. A good succession plan should be installed over time. Watching out for competition and market developments are very key to successful implementation.

The original objectives must be determined by value, not sentiments or personal preferences driven by executive powers or cliques in the system. Values must be based on end-user satisfaction. value creation for a clear differentiation should drive strategic objectives. Thus, adequate research and data gathering and analysis, implementation, and monitoring discipline are critical for good results and sustainability.

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Author: Glory Etaduovie

Glory O. Etaduovie is a full-fledged Management professional cutting across various fields of the financial industry. His work career spans over thirty-seven years in the Insurance, Management, Marketing and Pension fields.


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