By: Sheri Nasim, President & CEO

This year, I had the opportunity to work with two major clients to help them refresh their strategic goals. One organization chose the old school method of having business unit and operational leaders gather in person at a multi-day retreat to share their first pass plans with one another, then refine those plans over the next two months and lock in their goals for the next fiscal year along with OPEX and CAPEX budgets. The other organization (which, ironically, is a department of an Ivy League school) chose to refresh their strategic plans iteratively over a five-month period. They wanted to involve more stakeholders in the planning process, which would ideally result in shared accountability for delivering on the goals.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both strategic planning methods that my clients chose. But both were wise enough to skip drafting and editing 30+ page strategic plans. Instead, both walked away with a set of actionable, measurable goals that could be cascaded to the individual contributor level. As authors Kenneth Carrig and Scott Snell state in Strategic Execution (Stanford Press, 2019), three out of every five companies rate their organization as weak on strategy execution.

As I’ve written in multiple posts over the years like – 3 Proven Ways to Move from Strategic Planning to Strategy Execution – the sooner you can connect your strategic objectives with the goals and rewards of individual team members, the better chance you have of turning that theory into reality. Strategy execution happens with true goal alignment from top to bottom, regular monitoring of progress, and linking individual incentives with organizational performance.

I’m fortunate to work with leaders who understand that the days of the written strategic plan are past. Whether you choose the multi-day, retreat style method or the multi-month stakeholder model of refreshing your strategic goals, you’ll be far more likely to achieve those goals when you help your team members connect their goals to the big picture.

Question: What ways have you found to bridge the gap between strategic planning and strategy execution?

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