The Most Important Part Of Your Strategic Plan

Mike Harden | | Operating with Vision, Thinking Strategically

There is only one thing that proves a brilliant strategy: brilliant results.

Jamie Dimon, CEO and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase, said, “I’d rather have a first-rate execution and second-rate strategy any time than a brilliant idea and mediocre management.”

Ideally, both execution and strategy are strong; but in reality, weak plans usually aren’t the problem. It’s a team’s ability to execute. That’s where a lot of companies fall down. It is important to put more focus on the implementation side than the strategic side of a plan.

Often, the easiest part of the process is defining the over-arching strategy or approach to a challenge. Figuring out the how is more challenging. For every strategy, there could be 400 tasks to accomplish before we see results. If, for instance, our strategy is to open a new market in China, we can easily create a list of 100 high-level initiatives that we need to complete before we can even get into the market. How do we handle that? That’s the important part.

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3 Steps For Implementing A Strategic Plan:

So, how do you make sure you can execute strategy effectively? Without these three steps, you are not going to be as successful as you could be:

  1. Every task needs to have a name attached to it.
  2. One person is responsible for every step of the plan. He/she may have a team doing the actual work towards achieving that, but this person is where the buck stops. It’s not enough to assign a task to a department or a committee; there has to be an individual held accountable.

  3. Put a date on it.
  4. There’s an old saying, “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.” The same is true for dates: if you don’t put a date on it, it’s not going to happen. It takes a backseat to pressing issues, and before you know it, a year’s gone by without implementing this step of your strategy.

  5. Have a way to track and measure initiatives and activities.
  6. As a CEO or executive, the last thing you want is to be surprised. You don’t want to get to the end of the year and not have your goals achieved because someone missed a step back in May. You have to monitor continually so there is time to correct course, if necessary. Weekly status updates – How are you doing with X? It’s due in two weeks; are you where you should be? – will help you keep your finger on the pulse of progress.

Implementing strategy is like playing football. You don’t often throw the Hail Mary pass, unless it’s a last ditch effort to save the game. Football is a game of moving the ball down the field, yard by yard, until you make it to the end zone. It is the same with strategy; you accomplish one task, then another, moving them forward until the strategy is implemented. A disciplined approach moves the ball down the field and will help you accomplish the goals and objectives you have set for your organization.

Mike Harden

Mike Harden has developed exceptional depth and breadth of knowledge over his 40+ year career as an entrepreneur, executive, teacher, mentor, and coach. Today, as one of DC’s premier Executive Coaches, Mike helps good executives become great leaders. Find Mike on Google+

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