The Reality of Strategic Plan Execution should be clearly apparent. You must measure your teams understanding and ability to execute or you’re simply lying to yourself and others and wasting time and money under the illusion you’re doing strategic planning.
Whether I call it a strategic plan for larger organizations or a plan of attack for smaller mom and pop businesses, the foundational elements are the same. Having a clear plan on where your business is going and how to successfully and consistently achieve goals, so that all of your employees, managers and leadership fully understand their respective duties on how to get there, is paramount. The most pivotal aspect of this entire process rests on the ability of leadership and every employee under them to implement the strategic plan so that actions, statements, and behaviors result in improved conditions at all levels within your organization. When this takes place, your internal and external customers will benefit greatly and your competitors will try to emulate; resulting in your leading and your competitors following.
In my experience, however, working with National and International companies, approximately 95% of them have strategic plans, but only 3 to 7 % implement them consistently and effectively; most of these beautifully made documents start collecting dust after a mere 4-6 weeks after their launch. For example, and this represents the majority, not the minority; I had one President share with me that his organization had just completed a yearlong, mid-six-figure, strategic plan creation project; and it was a work of art housed in a leather bound embossed casing. However, when I asked him what he intended to do with it, he replied with a deer-in-the-headlights expression, “I don’t know.” Many of the problems surrounding implementation don’t stem from lack of trying, but rather from lack of understanding. Company leadership either believes the creation of the plan is enough and implementation will automatically take care of itself, or they confuse general strategic plan knowledge with the processing of the plan. In other situations, I have found they have gathered inaccurate information or no information at all, which they base their strategic plan on. Successful strategic plan implementation requires that your leadership team have skills, knowledge and experience, which creates competency when faced with follow-through.
A plan will not and cannot do anything but suggest a way to go; its a map. It does not promote ACTION. People promote action but usually don’t know what actual steps they need to take next because it requires them to do and be different than who and what they were 5 days before and leadership doesn’t know how to help model new behaviors. There are a lot of steps and stages that must be taken and met for a strageic plan can do you and your organization any good. The first step in this process is to determine if everyone on the leadership team and then within the organization knows about the plan, understands the plan and then knows what steps THEY must take to help implement the plan. This quick and easy assessment will help you determine how well the plan is understood.
Leadership Team Competency
These questions will help you and your team discover if you are ready to implement your strategic plan or if you must slow down and make sure everyone knows what the objectives are and their place in helping the company achieve those objectives. So many times I witness leadership going in one direction only to turn around and watch the rest of the company heading off in an entirely different direction–strange but, unfortunately very true.
Now for the assessment: For ease of wording I use the term “leaders.” I suggest you mentally use all people of authority in your organization including executives, supervisors, directors, managers, assistant managers and so forth. I suggest you use a 0-5 Lickert Scale, where zero means “none of the leaders” and five means “all the leaders.”
- Your leaders understand the strategic plan and are able to successfully set department goals in support of the strategy?
- Your leaders lead meetings in which strategic issues are discussed in relation to operations?
- Your leaders, if asked, could provide a priority list of issues directly related to strategy implementation for which they are responsible?
- Your leaders set their subordinates’ goals and objectives according to the strategic goals that relate to their operations?
- Your leaders evaluate, reward, and promote their people with strategic goals in mind?
How did you and your Leadership team do?
If you Scored…
|High: 4′s and 5′s||You are probably doing well despite economic or industry conditions.|
|Midrange: 2′s and 3′s||You are doing OK, but now you know who/what needs improvement.|
|Low: 0′s and 1′s||You and your leadership team would be wise to take your noses off the grind stone and put some time and energy into your destination and how you intend to get there.|
Working Hard vs Working Smart
Working hard is needed, but working smart is required and nothing is more important to business success than working toward a specific destination and making sure you and your team have the fundamental skills, knowledge and competency to create and implement a useful strategic plan. For additional information on any or all of this material, please contact Kelly@InternalBusinessSolutions.com so we can schedule an appointment for you and i to speak about how to improve you and your company.