“We spent SO much time on our plan and it just sat on the shelf. We never did anything with it.”
Sadly, this is a common complaint about strategic plans. Here are six things you can do to create your executive playbook and manage a successful implementation.
1) Document An Action Plan – Many organizations are able to define a direction and create a high-level plan. However, they may lack the project management and HR discipline, which can stifle action and results. Cascade your objectives hierarchically from each major goal, to the various strategies that meet those goals, to the specific, assigned, tactical plans to achieve those strategies.
2) Create Forums And Formats To Review Progress – Consider monthly or weekly discussions with action item owners for their specific actions. Monthly or quarterly meetings can provide the bigger organizational picture. Formats and review frequency may vary by strategy, based on complexity, duration, status, and other variables. Communicate and follow up consistently to emphasize your plan priorities.
3) Link Employee Incentives To The Objectives – Commission, bonuses, or other simple perks, such as an extra day off, may be all that’s required to motivate all levels of staff to follow through on their objectives. Don’t forget the basics of including strategic plan objectives in annual and quarterly performance reviews. Public recognition reinforces your message.
4) Define Metrics – Talk is just talk. You need action and results. In addition to the documentation and incentives above, you must be able to quantify and measure progress. It may not have to be a formal trend chart. Think incremental improvements, like a 5% increase in customer satisfaction. For a sales increase goal, consider measurement frequency as well as measuring the drivers of that result. A weekly review of the number and/or dollar value of applications, proposals, and appointments are good indicators to check your direction as well as your speed. Metrics help create the traction you need to get started and prevent surprises later.
5) Create An Actual Executive Playbook – Put it all together. Consolidate the objectives, metrics, and responsibilities above into a separate file or scorecard, away from the traditional, 3-ring binder. It’s easier to work with a quick reference tool for all your discussions and meetings.
6) Make Strategic Planning An Ongoing Process – Strategic planning isn’t a one-time event or a 3-ring binder. It’s a way of managing your organization. Use the executive playbook for all the reviews above, but also consider an official mid-year checkpoint. What has changed? Should some actions be added and some postponed or deleted? Each year, revisit the plan and link it with your budgeting process. You shouldn’t have to go through an extensive organizational assessment or offsite planning process if you’re staying current through the year.
Whether you hired a consultant or you’re a do-it-yourselfer, go beyond the binder. Follow through with these implementation steps and create an executive playbook to manage your organization. You may be surprised how much more focused, productive, and energized your team can be.