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 one step closer to achieving your Big Hairy Audacious Goal 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 planning tips should help you execute on your 3 year strategic plan while keeping track of your day to day activities.
“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.
Here are some tips you can use to keep your strategic plan alive while also improving your execution.
1. Keep you plan front and center. Do not file it away in a drawer or on your computer in a folder.
2. Make sure your plans are execution-ready and pass the 4 tests for accountability, financial success, energy and focus.
3. Translate your annual plan into an executable quarterly plan. This is where the work gets broken down into manageable priorities and actually gets accomplished.
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 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 meetings to review your strategy and your annual and quarterly plans to make sure they are still appropriate to help you hit your targets.
“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.
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.
"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.
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
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