Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan Implementation

You’ve done the hard work of creating a strategic plan for your business. Now what? If your company is like many others, the plan will sit on a shelf, mostly ignored. Failure to implement the plan is like having a roadmap to your destination but never getting in your car to drive.

Implementation of your strategic plan is the process that turns strategies and plans into actions this is where the rubber meets the road in order to accomplish strategic objectives and goals. Implementing your strategic plan is as important, or even more important, than your strategy. There is a great way to learn how to take your implementation to the next level.

Critical actions move a strategic plan from a document that sits on the shelf to actions that drive business growth forward. Sadly, the majority of companies who have strategic plans fail to implement them. According to a recent study, nine out of ten organisations fail to implement their strategic plan for many reasons:

  • 60% of organisations don’t link strategy to budgeting
  • 75% of organisations don’t link employee incentives to strategy
  • 86% of business owners and managers spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy
  • 95% of the typical workforce doesn’t understand their organisation’s strategy.

Your strategic plan provides your business with the roadmap it needs to pursue a specific strategic direction and a set of performance goals, deliver customer value, and be successful. However, this is just a plan; it doesn’t guarantee that the desired performance is reached any more than having a roadmap guarantees the traveller arrives at the desired destination.

Getting Your Strategy Ready for Implementation

For those businesses that have a plan in place, wasting time and energy on the planning process and then not implementing the plan is very discouraging.  Although the topic of implementation may not be the most exciting thing to talk about, it’s a fundamental business practice that’s critical for any strategy to take hold.

Here are the most common reasons strategic plans fail:

  • Lack of ownership: The most common reason a plan fails is lack of ownership.  If people don’t have a stake and responsibility in the plan, it’ll be business as usual for all but a frustrated few.
  • Lack of communication: The plan doesn’t get communicated to employees, and they don’t understand how they contribute to the overall strategy.
  • Getting mired in the day-to-day: Owners and managers, consumed by daily operating problems, lose sight of long-term goals. 
  • Out of the ordinary: The plan is treated as something separate and removed from the management process.
  • An overwhelming plan: The goals and actions generated in the strategic planning session are too numerous because the team failed to make tough choices to eliminate non-critical actions. Employees don’t know where to begin.
  • A meaningless plan: The vision, mission, and value statements are viewed as fluff and not supported by actions or don’t have employee buy-in.
  • Annual strategy: Strategy is only discussed at yearly weekend retreats. 
  • Not considering implementation: Implementation isn’t discussed in the strategic planning process. The planning document is seen as an end in itself.
  • No progress report: There’s no method to track progress, and the plan only measures what’s easy, not what’s important. No one feels any forward momentum.
  • No accountability: Accountability and high visibility help drive change.  This means that each measure, objective, data source, and initiative must have an owner.
  • Lack of empowerment: Although accountability may provide strong motivation for improving performance, employees must also have the authority, responsibility, and tools necessary to impact relevant measures.  Otherwise, they may resist involvement and ownership. 

It’s easier to avoid pitfalls when they’re clearly identified. Now that you know what they are, you’re more likely to jump right over them!

Making Sure You Have the Support

Often overlooked are the five key components necessary to support implementation: people, resources, structure, systems, and culture. All components must be in place in order to move from creating the plan to activating the plan.

We pride ourselves on translating strategy and ideas into tangible business results (or in other words getting stuff done). Working together we can implement the plan.  We bring decades of strategic planning knowledge into play to keep the project on track and drastically short-cut the learning curve.  Why reinvent the wheel when we have one in a box ready to roll?