It was the astringent smell of the chemicals and the magic of seeing an image appear on a blank piece of paper that first got me hooked on photography. Although film still has its aficionados, those days are, for the most part, long gone. And many of the companies that dominated the photography industry at that time such as Ilford and Kodak are but a shadow of their former selves. By the 1990s, the camera world had gone digital with brands such as Canon, Nikon, and Fuji dominating the market. The advent of digital cameras and the immediacy of digital photography saw the market boom and by 2006, manufacturers were shipping 130 million units a year. But today, less than a decade later, global sales of dedicated digital and compact cameras have collapsed to 30 million units—less than a quarter of what they were at their peak. Once smartphones were able to produce quality images, most consumers abandoned digital cameras altogether, preferring the convenience of having a single device to carry around. Film dominated the photography industry for a century while dedicated digital cameras managed just a couple of decades. A different group of companies has dominated each phase in the history of mass-market photography, as disruptors with better and broader technological capabilities replaced existing incumbents.
Why strategy execution failsYou do not have to look far to find other instances where disruptors have rapidly replaced the dominant players in other markets. But why does history keep repeating itself when it comes to strategy execution? A recent article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) cites three reasons for poor strategic execution:
- Failure to align departmental goals and actions to high-level strategy.
- Difficulty in finding a balance between agility and staying the course, with some organizations responding too slowly to fleeting opportunities while others react too swiftly and make decisions they live to regret.
- In many companies, strategy is still not widely communicated or understood.
|Exploration||Analysis of the current business and how internal and external changes are creating new opportunities and threats||Limited number of potentially viable strategies|
|Evaluation||Evaluation of options to ascertain which are financially viable and what strategic capabilities the company needs to develop to be successful||Chosen strategy|
|Planning||Translating strategy into strategic imperatives and detailed financial plans||Long-range plans and budgets|
|Communication||Cascading the strategy down the organization||Aligned action plans and annual budgets|
|Monitoring||Continual monitoring of all the assumptions that underpin the strategy and the key performance indicators that need to be achieved to successfully implement it||Tracking of progress and early warning of changing conditions|
Table 1: Key steps in the formulation and implementation of strategyAs the HBR article suggests, neglecting to adequately address any of these five steps will result in failure. Sometimes, companies become too focused on their existing markets and fail to explore disruptive technologies that rapidly make their products obsolete; and sometimes, companies hit on a great strategy, but a combination of poor communication and slow implementation means they are soon overtaken by their competitors.