Organizations spend about $160 billion a year on developing new strategy, yet research shows about 80% of those strategies are ultimately doomed to fail. This is an incredible waste—and an incredible opportunity.  

While landing on the right strategy is a major achievement, activating it within the organization successfully is critical. But that’s the easy part, right? Your team will be able to do this activation work themselves, won’t they? Sometimes they can, but research shows most organizations need support in bringing this important work to life. Even the best-laid plans can fizzle during execution, because there’s often a huge gap between planning and execution. We call this gap the activation abyss. And a consultant well versed in strategy activation can help you cross it.  

Through our work activating change and strategy across multiple industries, we’ve noticed six big red flags that signal trouble ahead.  

Person sitting at laptop on desk, frustrated.

Lack of Recognition 

Many leaders fail to recognize that between the decision to go to a new place and the actual expedition, a major effort is required to recruit a team, persuade them that your destination is attractive, and support them in preparing for the journey. And even if you convince them that they want to join you, you’ll need to ensure they are prepared with the skills, knowledge, and equipment to be successful. 

Recognizing this gap in need and support can derail activation before it even begins. An experienced consultant can make the gap clear for all to see and help leaders plan to address it appropriately. 

The Clock is Ticking 

Your project deadline is continually pushing out and your go-to leadership tools are failing you due to constant changes in direction and strategy. Your team is misaligned on priorities. There’s confusion across functions and across the organization.  

Sound familiar? You must get everyone on the same page if you’re going to make the progress your timeline demands. A seasoned consultant is adept in bringing teams together and using tried-and-true tools and tactics to guide them toward faster decisions and accelerate progress on projects that are stuck. 

Three people sit at a desk. One points to a stack of papers. Two sit frustrated.

Emotions are Running High 

Intense work situations are often charged with strong emotions and conflicting points of view. In the most politically charged meetings, an external consultant provides an unbiased perspective to acknowledge these emotions and effectively facilitate the potential conflict into productive methods to solve problems and reach solutions. Most of the time, internal teams are too deeply tied to their perspectives to be able to do this themselves. 

Four people stand in front of a whiteboard with sticky notes and drawings on it.

Decisions Don’t Stick 

Whether it’s a change in strategy or an update to an internal process, if your leaders are continually communicating decisions to the organization that no one seems to apply to their work, it’s likely because your employees aren’t bought in. People support what they help build, so inviting your staff into facilitated sessions to help plot the activation path forward enables them to craft and co-create decisions and solutions they believe in. Your team can be wildly effective by bringing the right people into the process at the right time, and an expert change consultant can quickly break through the clutter of who needs to be involved in a change process and get clarity on where to start.

Lopsided Power Dynamics 

Often, large organizations work with numerous segments (both internally and externally) that hold power outside of the executive suite. When you’re bringing together multiple departments of power, decisions about how to frame strategy and communicate it effectively can become turf battles. It is extremely effective to partner with a change or activation consultant to help warring factions see the larger picture, understand how the multiple groups could all benefit, and navigate their varying points of view. 

Inconsistent Messaging 

When different messages are coming from leadership, organizational progress slows until this confusion is resolved. You can’t afford for that to happen. If leaders are not aligned, the only way to get things done quickly is to bring them together, figure out where the confusion lies, and get them all telling the same story. 

Experiencing any of these symptoms with your team? These are the critical make-or-break instances where an outside consultant that specializes in activation and change planning can help your organization get where it needs to go, and fast. 

When you make the decision and invest in getting your team aligned and accelerating progress, the chances are you won’t regret it. After working with hundreds of organizations on their change and activation initiatives, the most common feedback we get after a successful engagement is, “We could never have gotten this far alone.” 

If you’re ready to design and craft a change campaign plan and roadmap to ensure your transformation effort takes hold—and need a consulting partner to accelerate the results you desire, let’s talk about your goals and possible solutions!