Ensure the implementation of strategic goals

21.07.2020 erstellt von Hannah Wnendt, Kay Falkenau

We all want to work towards some kind of better world - starting with an organisation that is continuously preparing for the future. So why don't we actually move towards a common direction?

Research suggests that the implementation of strategic goals fails in 50 - 80% of the cases (Carlopio & Harvey, 2012). This indicates that a considerable proportion of strategic goals do not come further than their mere articulation. Having your birds-eye view on your organisation in mind, how can you prevent this from happening to your company?


The Catch-Ball principle

Strategic goals define the ways you aim to achieve the desired state of your organisation mid- to long-term. You may have already thought about concrete steps to coordinate activities on each organisational level accordingly. Speaking from our experience, this is the crucial step to introduce a sustainable system that really ensures the success of your strategic goals. One way to write them into the DNA of your organisation is to align these goals not only across hierarchical levels but also across functions. Imagine a CEO working in the automotive industry who would like to see his company as the leading electromotive manufacturer on the international market and thus making sustainable mobility affordable all over the world. Having this idea in mind, the middle management starts to define breakthrough-goals that should be reached in a 3-to-5-year time frame, aligning these with the top management. For example, the HR team could probably identify competencies required to make a change in the future and think about ways how to develop these internally. On the other hand, the production team might look for measures to further digitalise the control of their machines while drastically improving the prediction accuracy for the need for new raw materials. Ideally, they can already inform the HR team about the importance of machine learning skills in the job descriptions of new team members. After informing the top management about these ideas, each department would probably discuss the ideas with their employees. This is a chance to get feedback about the feasibility of measures from the frontlines. Thus, it would not be uncommon that the ideas go back and forth, transforming the measures throughout the whole process until an optimal solution is found.


This approach has the following benefits:

·      Motivation: Every team member has a specific purpose in the back of their minds, enhancing their motivation to follow the organisational strategy.

·      Acceptance: Every team member understands and supports the steps required to implement the organisation’s strategy because they are involved from early on.

·      Connectivity: Workflows and goals are not defined independently but need to be aligned cross-functionally.

·      Directionality: Employees have an idea how to contribute to the success of the company and adjust their behavior accordingly.


“Leadership is co-orientation.”


So, what is one reason for the failure of the implementation of strategic goals? If leaders do not take employees on board and motivate them to move towards a common direction, a kind of co-orientation of single activities be possible. Employees are as important in supporting the alignment of strategic goals as the middle and upper management and nobody should wonder why they are forced to implement decisions they do not agree with or understand in the first place. This is the reason why every team member should be involved in the definition and implementation of strategic goals from the first moment onwards.

A tribute to emotion regulation and self-leadership

Leadership is about proactively taking responsibility – in good times as well as in bad times. Besides drastic changes at the workplace like bankruptcies and strategic reinventions, we all may have experienced some moments in which we felt lost and unsettled in the last few months – and thus, leaders do not only need to provide orientation for others, but also need to care for themselves. Keeping the ambiguous and uncertain nature of the current corona-crisis in mind, this period might have been an intense and fruitful training for our emotion regulation skills that we can apply to future events.  The ability to manage our own thoughts and emotions is also oftentimes referred to as self-leadership - an array of strategies that enforce self-regulatory processes (Neck & Houghton, 2006).

For example, you can listen attentively when talking to yourself – everyone is having a constant inner dialogue with oneself that represents a constant evaluation process. If your self-talk looked more like this “This crisis will never end…” than this “Even if I am unsettled now, I cannot change the situation and at least try to be productive every day.”,  chances are that you are a) not very kind and b) running into a lack of motivation. Apart from the abilities that help to reinvent the future of your organisation (e.g., innovativeness, perseverance etc.), it might be helpful to explicitly develop emotion regulation skills in your management team. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: development is a dynamic process and can only happen if we step out of our comfort-zones from time to time.


Photo by James Sullivan on Unsplash


Looking for professional assistance to plan your post-corona-era? Being a team of expert psychologists, Mediatum is glad to provide you with unique personal development insights – whether long-term or short-term solutions are needed to boost your personal growth in times of crisis and beyond. Please do not hesitate to contact us to stay ahead in difficult times – we are happy to help!



Carlopio, J., & Harvey, M. (2012). The development of a social psychological model of strategy implementation. International Journal of Management, 29(3), 75.

Neck, C. P., & Houghton, J. D. (2006). Two decades of self-leadership theory and research: Past developments, present trends, and future possibilities. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(4), 270–295. doi.org/10.1108/02683940610663097