Move your strategy into action

In my conversations with business executives, I am often impressed with the effort, thought and, in many cases, creativity that has gone into the development of their organizations’ strategic plan.  When I share with them my passion and experiences for engaging teams in translating that corporate strategy into action, they will inevitably share their own struggles at trying to get their strategies adopted.

These companies are not alone.  Studies show that 70-90% of strategic plans fail to be implemented and end up collecting dust on boardroom shelves.

Strategic plan development gets most of the attention (and the resources) and garners most of the respect around the executive table. But, if you look at what separates the companies that prosper during hard times from those that don’t, the differentiator is how effective they are at getting the plan into action.

Here are some common pitfalls to avoid as your organization makes the transition.

In the strategy development phase, these points can hamper effective execution:

  • A few executives or “planners” created the plan in isolation
  • Not enough insights and solid industry data were used in the “Where are we now?” part of the strategic planning process
  • Lacks understanding of customer needs, wants and behaviour
  • Does not define well enough what is strategically most important

As executives seek to move the plan out of the corner office and into their teams, these points can create barriers:

  • No defined process or framework for teams to follow
  • Leadership has low involvement
  • Plan language has jargon that confuses instead of clarifies
  • Objective ownership is not clearly assigned
  • Lack of a tracking and evaluation system: measurement is not aligned or non-existent
  • No way for teams to provide feedback on how to improve the plan
  • The strategy is poorly communicated
  • Difficult to allocate resources to strategy
  • A culture of impatience prevails

All these barriers are surmountable if the amount  of energy, resources and intention  that went into developing the strategic plan is also invested in translating it into action.

References and further reading:

Execution: the discipline of getting things done, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan