Seven Deadly Sins of Strategy

Seven Deadly Sins of Strategy

Strategy is often confused with tactics and is often poorly crafted because one of more of these seven sins of strategy have been committed.



Leaders, potentially in search of notoriety or “fame”, overreach in determining the strategic goal. They lose sight of the realities of the market they operate in and their organisation’s capability and capacity, setting their organisation up for failure.


Leaders remain blissfully unaware of the competitive advantage of their organisation in the eyes of the consumers of their services and are too timid in their approach to strategic goal setting. Or they remain blissfully unaware of the limitations in their organisation which must be resolved if the organisation is to reach its strategic goal.


Leaders mirror what they hear and see in the media and decide to follow popularised “industry practice” in developing and articulating their strategy. They follow a fad without fully understanding its meaning and the capability and capacity required to deliver the strategy.

This has lately been seen with far too many organisations claiming to follow a strategic intent of ‘disrupting’ their industry. In the past, we have had management by objectives, ‘lean’ service delivery, total quality management and business process re-engineering to name a few.

They all have similar attributes in that they are simple, promissory, easy to cut and paste and legitimised by a guru or one organisation doing it well. They all die out to be replaced by a new fad with a few practitioners in specific industries with specific applications making them continue to work for them.


Leaders fail to communicate the strategy clearly enough to their shareholders and or employees. Buy-in does not eventuate and the strategy never gets off the ground.

Leaders must harness effective communication techniques using powerful symbols, emotion and facts to get their message across. They must pay respect to the different communication preferences of their audiences and take responsibility for the effectiveness of the communication. They must measure to see whether they succeeded or failed and adjust as necessary.


Strategy is implemented without a plan that considers the capability and capacity of the entire organisation. It is not good enough to develop a ‘customer first’ strategy without considering what is needed in the supply chain to deliver upon the marketing promises.

Implementation of the strategy is done in a reactive fashion playing out as a set of disassociated operation [plans of different departments.


The strategy is not aligned to a vision and the purpose of people in their roles is not aligned to the strategy. People are therefore neither able to visualise what the strategy will deliver for customers, employees, regulators or the public nor how they can contribute to the outcomes by effectively executing their role. Loss of morale usually follows.


Leaders ignore information provided to them about risks and issues the strategy may hold for the organisation and continue to do so as the strategy is executed. They take opinions over facts and mistake belief for analysis.

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