When you run a business of any size, there is rarely a shortage of ideas. And while having lots of great ideas is helpful, it can also be a curse when it comes to results.
Many businesses operate in a ‘business as usual model’ and anything that disrupts that often causes more trouble than the solution itself.
The missing piece beyond poor strategy is the strategy execution plan – the how.
In simple terms, a strategic plan can sit in a drawer for as long as you want, but until you take action, it has zero value beyond a pep talk around your ‘idea’.
The value is in the action you take with the plan, not the plan itself, so here are six steps to make sure your strategy finds execution:
Ironically, strategic planning is not prioritised as highly as you may think or is only given one day per year when management gets together and decides on the path forward.
The first step is to put time aside to decide what you want to achieve, who, what, and when. Then make it part of your daily/weekly operations, so it is a live document.
Like being sat in a drawer, if no one knows what the plan is, it’s of little value.
As you develop the plan, include all appropriate key stakeholders, so you don’t just spring it on them. This way, you will gain support and momentum in the implementation phase.
You will also get champions that want to take on key components that will help you deliver results.
Share the plan, get feedback, make it easily accessible and bring it into all decision making throughout the business.
Set tangible goals
A strategic plan is just a roadmap to where you want to end up. That being said, you don’t just leap to the end. You need to be clear on the steps that will get you there, just like running a marathon.
It may be daily goals or monthly KPI tracking; whatever you use, ensure that all involved can see a tangible move towards the goal.
Delegate the doing
If you are looking to make a significant change, then you will need others to help. By breaking your plan down into critical objectives and then key results, you can get other team members to take on some of the responsibility. This means that on a day to day basis, you are making small gains across the board.
Some elements will take nine months; others may take three weeks but are needed to enable the nine-month goal. Strategic execution fails when too few take on too much.
Track progress on your strategy
You don’t have to get cute. A humble whiteboard can be the perfect tool to outline what needs doing, why and by when and then add someone’s name next to it. Action needs accountability.
Alternatively, you can use Trello to enable collaboration and progress tracking without colossal cost and training.
Without tracking the progress, you have no idea where you are in terms of the overall strategic plan, and it leaves you little room to know if something is not right and how to reward those that are delivering.
Bring the strategy execution alive.
As with the strategy plan, you need to make the executive a living activity.
If one of your goals is sales, then chime a bell when you hit the goal. If you have a project delivery schedule, take the team out to thank them when they hit a key milestone.
The more support you have around the strategic plan and the actions required to make it happen, the more likely you will hit your short, medium and long term goals.
If we go back to the marathon analogy, very few people go out and do a marathon to train for a marathon. They are likely to start with a short walk or run and start to improve their eating. Building up week by week, hitting key milestones, tracking progress on an app, and once the work’s done, they run their marathon.
The first thing they do, though, is to take the first step. Action!