These days it’s commonplace for leadership teams to have an annual strategy and planning cycle. To go on a retreat or take a day out of the office and ask questions about where they can gain market share, better manage costs, improve engagement, increase productivity, and make customers happier.  This is all consolidated into a succinct one-page plan with measurable KPIs and launched proudly by the CEO and her team in a very exciting all-in meeting. Sometimes even with cake, a branded keep-cup or new colour lanyard. (Note to self….if you’re not there…catch up!).

Some take it a step further and cascade KPIs throughout the business so that individual performance plans are clearly linked to the business plan. Alignment achieved – SNAP!

Then, it’s back to the daily hustle and grind. Busy takes over. Fewer still actually use these plans as fuel for performance and make them part of regular conversations within and between teams.

Too many of us fall into the trap of investing time generating great strategic plans, only to fail at implementation.

A good test for whether your strategy plane has landed is to ask the newbie these questions:

  • Do you know what our strategic priorities are this quarter?
  • How do our strategic priorities align with our mission and vision as a company?
  • What are the performance measures important to this business?
  • How does your role add value and how do you measure your own success each day?
  • How does what you do influence the success of the teams working around you?

If you’re met with blank stares….you have your answer.

In an HBR article “Turning great strategy into great performance”, Michael Mankins and Richard Steele report that companies typically realise only about 60% of their strategies’ potential value because of defects and breakdowns in planning and execution.

In 2004 they surveyed senior executives from 197 companies worldwide. They discovered that the strategy to performance gap can be attributed to a combination of factors including:

  • Inadequate resources
  • Poorly communicated strategy
  • Actions required to execute not clearly defined
  • Unclear accountability for execution
  • Organisational silos and culture blocking execution
  • Inadequate performance monitoring
  • Inadequate consequences or rewards for failure or success
  • Poor or uncommitted leadership

Every single one of these blockers comes back to leadership. Leaders influence how well strategy is utilised as a force for driving high performance.

Failing to extract full value from your strategic plan is about as wasteful as planning and paying for your dream holiday and not actually taking it!  The secret to success is not just setting a plan – it’s implementing it.

This means getting teams in rooms together to understand what to prioritse, how to measure results, and who to collaborate with in the pursuit of shared goals. It means having regular conversations to track progress. It means lots feedback and coaching along the way to support consistent effort. And it means stopping once in a while to celebrate the small wins – definitely with more cake.

If you’d like to understand how to extract more value from your strategic plan, let’s have a chat.

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