- August 29, 2021
- Posted by: andreag
In our previous post, we looked at the essential keys to a successful strategic plan that are part of the creation of your plan. In this post we will check in with seven keys to keep in mind while you are implementing or doing the work of your plan. Many in our list below have links to additional information regarding that particular key that you can check out on our site. In several spots, we have also highlighted how the new online VN Portal has assimilated one of the keys.
Here are the implementation secrets to success:
High-performing strategic planning teams meet no less than every two weeks to review progress on the plan, problem solve, and revise the plan as needed. Before the Vision Navigation Portal, these meetings would involve reporting progress on outcomes assigned to each team member. The details of the personal plans, i.e., tasks, required to accomplish outcomes, were not visible on the plan chart, and thus their status was not reviewed. With the Portal, team members can (and should be required) to update the status of all tasks and outcomes before the meeting. Doing so shortens meeting time and facilitates using that time to problem solve rather than merely reporting on status.
A Strategic Plan Champion
It is normal that varying levels of commitment to plan completion exist within a team. Differing levels of day-to-day pressures, ability to control one’s time, commitment to the strategies all play a part. Our finding is that successful teams have a champion who holds execution of the strategic plan as essential and who sets a standard for completion of responsibilities. The champion is the voice urging at every team meeting that the team can do better, that the strategies are important, that a project needs problem-solving. The champion becomes the team conscience regarding the plan they all have committed to complete, insisting on results and not reasons why an assignment is overdue. This individual need not be a project lead or CEO in order to play that role, but rather is the individual with the consistent voice extolling the group to do better. A champion is a key to maintaining accountability.
There are several versions of a famous quote from Dwight Eisenhower re. planning that goes something like this “plans are worthless but planning is everything”. He was referring to battles never going as planned and the need to continually course correct based on conditions on the ground. The same can be said of your journey to your vision. You cannot foresee or entirely determine your future. Some strategies will work, some not. Some solutions to problems will work, some not. Additionally, there may be critical changes to membership of the team responsible for executing the plan.
Add all this up and we have found time and again that those who revise their plans 3+ times per year outperform those who don’t. The management team and general staff know when it is not going as planned. If you don’t revise your plan to address those challenges, then commitment to the plan is reduced, completion rates go down and performance is compromised.
Plan revision almost always includes rethinking an outcome or two, and will sometimes include rethinking your entire strategy. We have seen cases when multiple projects with overlapping elements have all cratered because the overall strategy did not get a favorable market response. Clients who were willing and prepared to scrub all or a significant part of their plan and reboot with a new strategic approach were successful, those who refused to revise were not. Revisions are not a sign of failure. They are a sign of being conscious of what is going on in the marketplace, in your organization and with your customers.
A key advantage of the new Vision Navigation® Portal, it affords clients the ability to make plan revisions live in their meetings as they review progress.
Use of the Vision Navigation® Chart as a Communication Tool
One of the reasons we created the Vision Navigation® Chart was to improve communication on plan status to boards of directors and all staff. One hospital client had 6’x9′ versions of the chart framed and placed on each floor of the hospital. Naturally, this tightened accountability as no one wanted the world to know that they were behind on their commitments to the organization. It enabled teams to move from a culture of reasons for not making progress to results.
Communication of strategy and progress is a major component of employee engagement which drives retention and performance.The Vision Navigation® Portal makes it possible for anyone you wish to have view-only access to the plan to know its status, revisions, etc. This makes communication of your plan seamless and progress transparent.
Measure Strategic Success
Measures have been the most challenging for both our clients and ourselves. Project metrics measure whether a strategy chosen to create growth or solve an internal problem is working. Metrics were added to our methodology upon finding that some new clients had previously continued executing strategies which upon inquiry we found were not accomplishing their intended goals. Thus, we always ask, “is there a way to measure that a strategy is having its intended impact?” The scarce time and resources allotted for plan implementation must be used wisely. Metrics help determine what is working and what is not as you implement your strategies.
Operationalize Your Plan
In addition to communicating the status of your plan widely, look for ways to use your plan as a day-to-day management tool. Use it to set the future agenda and create alignment with your governing board, and encourage the board to use progress on the plan to evaluate the CEO. Successful clients have enrolled their entire staff in looking for new ways to serve the customers, gather competitor intelligence and better execute on those processes that are directly linked to the strategic plan, giving them greater involvement and ownership of the plan you are asking them to execute. Leadership teams should regularly ask themselves if they are living the purpose and core values. Operationalize it even further by including the consideration of performance on the plan and the living of purpose and core values as part of the feedback on performance of each employee.
Have any questions or input on the keys to implementing a strategic plan? We would enjoy hearing from you!