How many times have you witnessed the following scenario play out in your business? Your company just completed months of work on a comprehensive, multi-year strategic plan - one sure to knock-out the competition. It took a lot of work and your proud of the outcome. But, your business won't be able to ever savor victory because of its reliance on the same old, bad habits that prevent successful execution. Six months later, your firm abandons the plan only to go about the work of creating a new one. And the cycle continues.
Don't let this happen to you again!
Here are 5 steps that you can take to avoid the yo-yo effect of strategic planning:
1. Establish a structure that reinforces the rigor of the planning process: It's one thing to plan, it's an entirely different thing to execute. Build some processes that will bolster and support the discipline and care exhibited during the planning effort. Create an executive steering committee comprised of the top executives to oversee the plan, have those members serve as project sponsors to ensure smooth execution and create communication vehicles needed to track and report on projects and programs as they are being implemented. In this way, you've made slipping into bad habits more difficult to do.
2. Make it someone's job: Another step that you can take to maintain the momentum of your planning program is to commit resources to maintaining the plan and the associated administrative processes. It's more likely that you'll stick with the plan and execute it, if you've put resources behind the management of the plan. Those resources are a lot less likely to let things slip when they know that it's their job to keep things going.
3. Define strategic planning as a continuous process: Strategic planning isn't something that you do once per year. Rather, it should be a continuous activity - one that enables mid-course adjustments, re-prioritization and ease of seizing emerging opportunities.
4. Commit to Improving related processes: Alignment of supporting activities like hiring practices, measurement and reward programs and compensation models with your strategies goes a long way towards garnering the commitment needed to keep the plan alive and in sync with organizational direction. A lack of alignment will make it easy to fall back into old familiar behaviors that can sabotage strategic execution.
5. Solicit outside perspective: Sure, you can try to go it alone. But, why would you want to? Gain 3rd-party advice from professionals that can identify the warning signs, have overcome all the pitfalls and can offer sound approaches that work, while providing the guidance needed to get things "right" the first time.
To close, the yo-yo effect of strategic planning is a legitimate disorder that can strike unwitting businesses many times over - resulting in squandered effort, re-work and unrealized dreams of the future. So, why not follow the 5 steps outlined above and take your chances on getting your strategic planning and execution activities resolved once and for all? Please reach out to me directly for additional ideas and support.