Where the Rubber meets the Road – Build and execute successfully

July 27, 2019

It’s the beginning of a new financial year and you have high aspirations for your business and what it will achieve.

You need a plan. A strategic plan. You know that “in life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are” (Arnold H. Glasgow), how to get there and where to spend time, human capital and money.

The team spends a day (or three) out of the office, focused on the vision and the plans to make the vision a reality.

Returning to the office there is a sense of excitement.

And then the rubber meets the road. Six months in and “people…are [still] attached to the obsolete – the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are” (Peter Drucker). And so the business returns to the comfort zone….also known as ‘business as usual’.

The building and execution of a successful strategic plan is hard work. It is also very rewarding when it delivers real results that are visible and tangible. Let’s face it, if it wasn’t hard work then everyone would be successful at it. And in another gem from Peter Drucker, “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

Whilst numerous books and articles have been written on ‘How to Build and Execute a Strategic Plan successfully’, I offer the following six as fundamentals from my experience.

1. Vision – a clear sense of purpose and direction is valuable only if it provides your employees with a common sense of what they are working on and working towards.

If only the Executive Team and top level Management ‘get it’ and understand how what they do fits into ‘it’, you’re in trouble!

Or in the words of the legendary New York Yankees baseball player Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”

2. Goals – these are the ‘What’ (not the ‘How’). They drive activity. In the absence of goals your employees will try and do their best with the information they have.

Make sure goals are clear, measurable (number focused), and can be contributed to at each level of the business.

3. Focused Direction – don’t grow your goals to become a ‘shopping list’. It’s hard I know. You’re excited. You set all kinds of goals and plans. Before you know it, you’ve got pages. People become overwhelmed. And they try their best. Or worse, they become overwhelmed and nothing gets done. Focus on what’s important. Limit it to two, three or five (if you can’t help yourself!). Be ruthless. Things that don’t appear on your ‘Focus List’ do not get yours or your employees’ attention until those on the ‘Focus List’ are achieved.

4. Communication – let me tell you what happens in an environment with little, no or poor communication… employees will try and do their best with the information they have.

But it’s common sense isn’t it? The need for communication is obvious. Isn’t it?

Communication is the art (and science) of connecting your employees with a shared meaning. The vehicle could be posters, presentations, emails, videos and the like. But these in themselves are not ‘communication’. Don’t confuse the vehicle with the outcome.

5. Poor or no execution – in point 2, I spoke about the ‘What’. This point is about the ‘How’. These are the plans that are going to turn goals into reality. Without these, goals will be buried under the demand of ‘business as usual’. These need to be accompanied with an expectation on reward and consequences for non-performance.

6. Format – the vehicles chosen for communication are important and will be largely driven by your culture, demographic and geography. There is one vehicle that suits all businesses or situations.

However, I can confidently say that beautifully printed and bound strategy packs or digital presentation packs create clutter and collect dust (even digital dust!).

Remember, your employees are bombarded with information, daily. Whilst digital formats are popular, effective and continually evolve, don’t ever underestimate the power of face-to-face communication.

Dynamic Corporate Solutions (DCS) assists growing enterprises by providing pragmatic advice, personal service and value for money across the private and public sectors.

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