Fact: Well executed mediocre strategies will outperform excellent strategy that is not properly deployed.
As we end the first quarter of 2015 most organizations will assemble their metrics around the initiatives set out for the year. Time and again we see average, low-risk strategies that are highly successful while many outstanding, more demanding, and well thought-out courses of action receive low marks. Many organizations won’t lack funding for the new operating plans they carefully and methodically prepared. Additionally, executive support will be very high, as are their expectations. But the returns for the more aggressive strategic plan (previously mentioned) are less than originally hoped. Did the company with the excellent plan get too aggressive or miss an important consideration?
The difference in performance lies in implementation. A conservative approach to annual strategic planning by its very nature allows a firm to “stick to their knitting” and continue with the formula that is tried, true and comfortable. Stretching a company with more aggressive operating goals requires the company to question existing practices and challenges employees to improve practices and/or systems. If the right approach and infrastructure is not in place, then the implementation of a more demanding strategic plan has a greatly diminished probability of success at any level. We have heard workers around the globe echo the same sentiment, “we had great ideas that just never got off the ground.”
Common approaches will increase the likelihood of success.
Many manageable and easy steps can be taken to realize the true value and organizational impact of the strategy selected for the current year. They include:
- Confirm agreement in scope, outcomes and timetable at the executive level.
- Each executive should have a personal list of “to-dos” that tie in with the agreed to strategic plan.
- The staff of each executive should be presented with their department’s or function’s responsibilities in a “raw and uncut” version of the strategic plan.
- Where needed, project teams should be formed with specific direction on scope, outcomes and timetables. Such teams need to be empowered to develop related metrics and held accountable on performance.
- When faced with unforeseen changes in the operating environment, the company should be flexible to tweak the plan. The integrity of the goals should be maintained with the “how to” given another review.
- Convene regularly scheduled meetings to review implementation progress and challenges. Any changes in schedule need to be communicated to all related parties, along with the actions, commitments and timetables to overcome the challenges impacting the success of the strategic plan.
Improving the long term prospects of a company involves formulating new and updated strategies. Focusing on excellent implementation of the strategic plan will not only keep the company on course, but also put it in a terrific competitive position.