Blog - Strategy

Why Bad Strategy Happens to Good CEOs

Posted by Tim Lewko on Nov 6, 2014 5:18:00 PM

7 Simple Checkpoints to Turn the Tide of Lagging Performance.


CEOs get paid to own and deliver EBITDA results in a predictable and sustainable way. “Bad strategy” is caused by lack of clarity around products, markets and needed capabilities - relative to the competition, through the eyes of the customer(s). In short, bad strategy does not guide day-to-day decision making of everyone in the company.

A well-known study involving over 1000 companies in 50 countries showed that 60% of employees said strategic and operational decisions could not be translated into action (HBR 2008 Neilson, Martin and Powers). The outcome is poor financial performance, unpredictable decision-making – and probably the greatest detractor of performance – frustration among managers and employees. So no matter how  “good” the CEO is “bad strategy” can happen.

But executives and leaders can quickly assess and improve a company’s ability to perform, by ensuring these seven gaps are addressed. By fixing these gaps you will ensure more aligned decision-making across functions and among all levels. The result will be to turn bad strategy into one that is clear and delivering on goals.

The seven points for CEOs and senior executives to assess on their company, and if needed fix, are included in this take-away checklist:


Checkpoints –




Do you have a common definition of what strategy is?




Is it clear what criteria drive priority products to offer and NOT offer?




Is it clear what criteria drive priority customers to serve and not serve?




Is it clear what criteria drive investment alternatives that support your strategy?




Does everyone know the 2 or 3 most important goals for the fiscal year?




Does everyone have a piece of those goals and can they be held accountable with clear objectives and metrics?




Do you status results -at least quarterly-on positive and negative performance gaps – and ensure action is taken to find and fix root cause?



If you find yourself not checking all the boxes “YES,” you have some version of a bad strategy or no strategy and your company is probably not executing to its full potential. It’s time as the CEO or leader to fix these gaps and to ensure aligned decision making which will lead to better financial results.

For more help or guidance on how to fix gaps – contact us – and we can show you the simple fixes to get more from your organization.

To download the PDF version of this checklist to test your Strategy, click here: Download Checklist