This is a shocking statistic.
Some research was conducted into why many strategies seem well conceived, but poorly executed. It concluded that whilst many organizations have some success with their strategy, almost nine out of ten organizations fail to fully implement their strategy as they had planned. The first figure in this research suggested that, of all the staff in the organizations involved, only five per cent of them understood the strategy. A different and more recent survey suggested that this figure was around eight per cent. I suspect the difference is not significant.
This limited understanding of strategy amongst its staff is an important issue for an organization. Even if the figures were out by a factor of ten, that means only half know what you are trying to achieve. If only one person in 20 understands your strategy (and presumably that one is executing the strategy) what opportunity are you missing with the other 19? It also raises the question, ‘Whose strategies are the other 19 executing?’.
It is not just a question of communication. It is also a question of trust. In a 2005 survey of 1,100 employees by Mercer Human Resource Consulting in the UK, just 36 per cent of workers trusted management ‘to always communicate honestly’. A similar survey of 800 US employees found that 40 per cent of respondents felt the same.
I suspect these figures also reflect different populations within the organization, and would vary with different levels of management and employee. Nonetheless, if you truly believe that your employees are a critical asset and fundamental to your success, can you afford to have so few of them trusting, understanding and helping you to implement your strategy?
Author, Communicating Strategy