The answer in a word: EXECUTION.
Generally, it’s not the vision itself that fails. But the transition from plan to delivery.
The inability to turn long term plans into daily action.
The failure to the weave the vision into the daily rhythm of the business.
Why is this?
We believe that it is all about duality.
The fact that most companies treat the day job and the strategic plan as two separate entities.
Now at some stage, this duality, this separateness is inevitable.
That’s because the business exists for a while before reaching a level of maturity and recognising the need for a strategic plan.
So, the leadership team and advisors take the time to craft the masterpiece.
And the grand reveal to the workforce occurs.
The separation starts here.
…everyone goes back to work.
This is the most common point of failure.
At this moment the duality between the day job and the strategic plan has never been so strong.
Following an initial period of interest, the honeymoon period ends and business as usual tends to reoccur.
Typically, the strategic plan only gets updated annually and referred to in the company newsletter every so often.
This is a very typical pattern in SMEs.
So, what goes wrong?
Implementing a plan to become part of the daily operation is hard.
In terms of launching a strategic plan, we work on 10% effort being attributed to the design of the plan and 90% to the implementation.
0% effort is assigned to the delivery.
Why? Because delivery isn’t part of the plan – it must become part of the day-to-day business.
The task of implementation can be akin to knitting.
It takes time, effort and patience. A process must be developed and adhered to.
And much like knitting, once the separate strings (the plan and daily running of the business) are woven together, they will become stronger as one and inseparable.
Often the amount of effort and skill required at the implementation stage of a plan, is overlooked by businesses leadership team.
What can be done to get this right?
For those facing the task of implementing a strategic plan, we recommend the following approaches.
A. ENGAGE PEOPLE EARLY
Start talking to staff and key stakeholders early on. At the design stage.
It may serve you well not to draw attention to the fact that you are even taking about a plan – that creates an initial duality.
Rather talk about the goals of the business, the problems, ideas and wants and needs of the stakeholders.
This isn’t just about gaining buy in.
It’s research and it’s shaping dynamics and forming a unified culture.
B. USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
Your two worst enemies for implementation are spreadsheets and PowerPoint.
Neither will be up to the task of embedding, unifying and nourishing your business plan.
To break out a long-term vision into strategies, objectives, projects, KPIs, tasks, documents etc… You need the right tool for the job.
Such tools are the knitting needles of our now rather drawn-out knitting analogy.
We recommend specialist world class solutions such as Cascade or StrategyBlocks.
Tools like this put everything in one place and help to bridge the gap between the long term goals and the day to day running of the business.
C. CREATE RHYTHM IN MANAGEMENT
A good planning system will highlight that almost all value is added at the frontier of a company. At the coalface.
It will shine a light on the other side of that coin. The fact that the management team are the coordinators, not the doers.
Therefore, creating a solid structure of aligned high functioning management is essential to a successful implementation. And more importantly the ongoing delivery.
We recommend management practices that forge alignment and empower through delegation.
Effective techniques are weekly 1-2-1s, delegation training, clear accountability, a hierarchy of KPIs and adopting commitment above opinion.
D. INVOLVE EVERYONE (BUT LADDER UP)
Everyone needs to be onboard. There’s no dispute here. Fall short on this one and you leave holes in the bow of the boat.
That said, don’t try to involve everyone in one go.
Treat this like a shuttle run.
You’ll need to bleed out the plan through the senior management teams initially, bedding in the best practices.
This way as the plan gets phased out, so do the best practices.
E. GET THE RIGHT HELP
Implementing a long-term strategic plan, across your entire business is no small feat.
Whether you get this right or wrong, you will be influencing your direction, your management style, your culture, and your performance.
This is a one-off transition and may not be something that you are experienced in.
Our closing comments are not to be put off by the failure rates of implementation of a plan. There will be pain, but the potential gains are significant.
The outcome of successful implementations are:
- An aligned cooperative team
- Greater visibility of business progress and performance
- Less stress/reliance for top management
- Higher valuation of the business.
To discuss how Everpro can help you to implement you strategic plan contact us or book a 30 minute consultation meeting.