Strategic Planning Tips: 17 Expert Tips for Effective Planning
Strategic planning is a critical part of running a successful company or organization. Yet, too often, companies don’t take enough time to prepare their plans. This leads to poor execution and wasted resources.
So, you had a great planning session with your team. Everybody left the 3-day session pumped up and ready to hit your targets for the year and move the company closer to achieving your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and other long-term strategic goals. Have you done the strategy work extremely well? What could go wrong?
Although everyone has good intentions, running a day-to-day business can get in the way of making progress on your annual and quarterly rocks. To help achieve your vision, you need to be intentional about your execution and how you operate your planning for all of your company's essential projects. These strategic planning tips should help you execute your three-year business plan while keeping track of your day-to-day activities. As the experts in mid-market planning facilitation, we are often asked for our best planning tips and advice, so here you go!
“61% of respondents acknowledge that their firms often struggle to bridge the gap between strategy and day-to-day implementation.” - The Economist.
It’s proven that most companies fail due to poor execution, not poor planning. And we have all heard the General Patton quote, "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week". Having the right strategy and execution plans is very important, but it’s even more important to accomplish them. Just because you have gone through the strategic planning process doesn't mean you're done; you need to do operational planning to ensure your plan is successfully executed and you have the proper organizational alignment.
Strategic Planning Tips
1. Keep your strategic plan front and center. Do not file it away in a drawer or on your computer in a folder. Make sure that the entire company knows your plan, not just the strategic planning team.
2. Ensure your plans are execution-ready and pass the four tests for accountability, financial success, energy, and focus on achieving your plan.
3. Translate your annual plan into an executable quarterly 90-day plan. This is where the work gets broken down into manageable priorities with deadlines and action items and assures your strategic plan is on track.
4. Create action plans to support your quarterly priorities and quarterly rocks. This encourages you to break down the work further into tasks or milestones and keeps you on track. Try to develop 3-5 action items to support each priority.
5. Conduct weekly team meetings to review the progress on your key performance indicators (KPIs) and priorities. Find solutions and adjust where needed to get back on track.
6. Schedule problem-solving meetings to resolve challenges not resolved in your weekly meetings so that you can get back on track as quickly as possible. Do not let unresolved issues drag on.
7. Hold monthly leadership meetings to review your strategic plans with all the appropriate parties. Review your progress and make any adjustments that are needed. Make sure that these are cross-functional to encourage employee engagement.
“Only one in five organizations review execution monthly.” Bridges Strategy Survey Results
8. Set up a “Think Rhythm” to work on strategic items like winning moves, core customers, and brand promises, so you move the work along faster and don’t wait until your planning sessions to work on strategic items with free and open discussions.
9. Hold each other accountable to accomplish what you set out to in your planning sessions and persevere towards success. Find paths forward and remove obstacles.
10. Develop a daily question to ask at your daily huddle that relates to your quarterly or annual theme to keep it front and center.
11. Digitize your strategy. A formal system to drive your execution goes a long way toward improving your performance. Rhythm Systems' strategic planning software system can help you create your strategic plan and track it to completion. We have a team of dedicated strategic planning facilitators to help you get the best R.O.I. on your strategy meeting.
"70% of organizations that used a formal process to manage their strategy out-performed their peers." (Kaplan & Norton)
12. Share it with your Board to maintain an even higher level of accountability and commitment.
13. Lead by example. You may have heard the saying; a fish rots from the head down. Organizational leaders need to set the bar by creating leadership accountability accountable and exercising good execution habits.
14. Incentivize your plans. Tie performance compensation to established targets and goals. Money may not be the number one motivator for people, but it helps.
15. Share your plans with the whole company. Use town halls, video conferencing, newsletters, whatever works best in your situation, but communicate the plan to get everyone behind it and share the progress that is being made.
16. Celebrate your success. Do this throughout the quarter when you accomplish your goals and by using quarterly themes to motivate and engage everyone in your company.
17. Hire a professional strategic virtual planning facilitator (or an in-person facilitator). If you decide to do it yourself make sure you pick someone with the qualities of a good facilitator. Make sure that this is part of your 3 Year Strategic Plan for budgeting purposes to ensure that you get in the right rhythm for continued success.
I hope this list gives you a few things to consider to keep your plans alive throughout the year. If you need some help getting started, you can download our free one-page strategic plan template. You might also want to check out our article on strategic questions to ask in your strategic planning session. Please let me know what other strategies you have used.
Good luck and execute well, Alan
Looking for additional strategic planning tips?
The CEOs Strategy-Execution Gap...And How To Fix It
How to Prepare for an Effective Strategic Planning Session
Choose Your 3 Year Strategic Growth Initiatives Wisely With This 4 Step Process
5 Steps to Getting Started on 3 Year Strategic Plans with Winning Moves
Have You Validated Your 3 Year Strategic Plan?
Strong 3 Year Strategic Plans to Grow Revenue and Stay Competitive
Don't Confuse Strategic Thinking And Strategy Execution Plans
9 Steps to a New Revenue Growth Strategy [Infographic]
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