Oct 22, 2018 | Strategy Execution

Stand up if you can locate a copy of your organization’s strategic plan in less than five clicks from your desktop (or in a 3-ring binder on your bookshelf). Now keep standing if you’ve opened that file (or binder) in the last quarter.

Most likely, your organization is going through another season of strategic planning this time of year. But, if you haven’t cracked open last year’s plan, then the hours and hours of work you’re about to repeat will likely become another waste of valuable time and effort. To be relevant, strategy must be both planned and executed. Here are four ways to make your strategic plan come to life:

1. Make your goals short and clear. Fuzzy goals are easy to agree on but hard to execute. Fuzzy goals are open to interpretation and a waste of valuable resources. The outcomes need to be empirically verifiable. Everyone involved needs to be able to gauge whether the target has been met.

2. Assign individual responsibility for each goal. It may take a team to achieve each goal, but if everyone is responsible, no one is accountable. Clarifying responsibility will lead to accountability. Bonus: don’t assign most goals to the top executives. The further down the org chart goals are owned, the more likely your organization will be aligned for success.

3. Measure twice. Cut once. Take the time up front to establish the best way to set targets for goal achievement, then report monthly on target-to-actual measurements. If you’re measuring something that your organization hasn’t executed before, look for industry benchmarks to set targets.

4. Review performance monthly. Execution-focused leaders meet regularly to review target-to-actual performance. When performance slides, ask this series of questions:

a.    Why is performance sliding?

b.    Keep asking “why” until you get as close as possible to the root cause.

c.    What are we doing to fix the problem?

d.    Do we need to put a cross-functional team on this to improve performance now, or is this an anomaly that will correct itself next month?

When leaders create explicit goals, assign individuals responsible, agree on achievable targets, and revisit performance every month, they are more likely to stay connected to strategic plans — and those plans are more likely to become reality.

Download our Balanced Scorecard fillable template to help you with your 2019 Strategic Plan!


Question: What is your organization doing to move from strategic planning to strategy execution?


Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, subscribe to receive CEE News!



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