Strategic Planning Tips: 17 Expert Tips to Create a Winning Strategic Plan

By Alan Gehringer

Strategic Planning Tips: 17 Expert Tips to Create a Winning Strategic Plan

So, you had a great planning session with your team. Everybody left the 3-day session pumped up and strategic planning tipsready to hit your targets for the year and move the company one step closer to achieving your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and other long term strategic goals. You've done the strategy work extremely well?  What could possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, even with everyone’s good intentions, running the day-to-day business can get in the way of making progress on your annual and quarterly rocks if you are not intentional about your execution or operation planning of all of your important projects to help you achieve your vision.  These strategic planning tips should help you execute on your 3 year strategic 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 strategic planning 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 a proven fact 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." I believe that having the right strategy and execution plans is very important, but it’s even more important to accomplish them successfully.  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.

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 you plan, not the just the strategic planning team. 

2. Make sure your plans are execution-ready and pass the 4 tests for accountability, financial success, energy and focus so that you can actually achieve 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 even 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 make adjustments where needed to get back on track.

6. Schedule problem solving meetings to resolve challenges that are 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 of 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 customer and brand promise 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.

quarterly planning

9. Hold yourself and 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. Having a formal system to drive your execution goes a long way to improving your performance.  Rhythm Systems strategic planning software system can help you create your strategic plan and track it all of the way to completion, and we have a team of dedicated strategic planning facilitators to help you get the best ROI 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 being 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 sure 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 along the way.

17. Hire a professional strategic virtual planning facilitator (or an in person facilitator one as the economy opens up.)  If you do decide to do it yourself make sure that you pick someone with the top 10 qualities of the best facilitators.

I hope this list gives you a few things to think about 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.  Please let me know what other strategies you have used.

Good luck and execute well, Alan

 Download Our Free 3-5 Year Strategic Plan Template

Interested in learning more about your 3 year strategic plan?

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

16 Strategic Planning Tips to Keep Your Strategic Plan Alive

Don't Confuse Strategic Thinking And Strategy Execution Plans

9 Steps to a New Revenue Growth Strategy [Infographic]


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

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