Looking to improve results at your company? “Creating a strategic plan will get you 20% of the way; successfully implementing your strategic plan will help you achieve an additional 40%; and the final 40% comes from building a high-performance organization,” says Marcelene Anderson, a partner with the Centre for Strategic Management in Toronto. In her work helping executive teams develop and implement strategic plans, Anderson says it’s the execution where companies fall short. The result: “SPOTS”- Strategic Plan on Top Shelf.
Anderson and Stephen Haines, CEO of the Centre for Strategic Management, reveal where execution goes wrong:
- Failing to track progress
Clearly defined targets and methods for measuring organizational success are essential. Without them, progress will be virtually impossible to determine. One of the temptations in setting success measures or goals is to measure what is easy, instead of what is important and strategic. Another common mistake of many plans is limiting its key success measures to only financial performance measures, ignoring the measures that produce financial results, such as satisfied customers and employees.
- Failing to intentionally begin implementation
Just as each year represents a fresh start, it is important to signal a fresh start as you begin the implementation of your strategic plan for the next fiscal year. Failure to do so could result in doing more of the same from the past. Symbolizing the start of a new year is an opportunity to focus the organization on strategic priorities and build momentum going forward.
- Weak accountability systems
In a perfect world, everyone would always do everything when it was agreed to, and there would be no need for accountability systems. In real life, accountability systems make life easier. They respect individual responsibility for results and foster an environment of ownership for results.
- Not updating the plan annually
Similar to bread and beer, plans go stale after awhile. In addition, environmental conditions change, goals are achieved and new ones need to be set. As a roadmap to the future, it is vital to keep the strategic plan current and relevant to the challenges and opportunities facing the organization.
- Weak day-to-day management
Ineffective management day-to-day can undermine employee performance and productivity. Developing the capacity of leadership and management is a crucial investment, which pays dividends in performance results.
- Not linking and rewarding individual and team achievements
Most employees do not work simply for a pay cheque; challenging work motivates them. At the same time, they want and expect to be recognized and rewarded for their efforts as individuals and as a team, when results are produced as a team.