8 Key Steps to Successfully Implement Your Company’s Strategic Plan

Despite the allure of a step-by-step manual, strategic implementation is nuanced, varying with each organization's culture and goals.

8 Key Steps to Successfully Implement Your Company’s Strategic Plan

Relentless pursuit of the win: The elusive quest for perfection in a world of imperfect realities

It would be nice to pick up a manual and get the 6 steps you need to take in order to successfully implement your strategic plan, from “A to Z”, 100% of the time within the timeframe that works perfectly for your business.  It would be right next to the book that shows how to raise perfect kids and how to find the perfect spouse.

This is an area that I have worked in for the past 20 years, and I want to assure you that no two companies have approached development of the plan or implementing the plan the same way.  Some did top-down strategic planning, with the understanding that drastic changes needed to happen within the organization, and they needed guidance on how to make those changes.  Others did a collaborative planning session, wherein department heads came together to work through a process that ultimately resulted in a plan for the company.

In any case, my goal was to help them develop a plan that would:

  1. Be practical – something that they could actually do and that didn’t require super powers or resources that weren’t accessible to them
  2. Push the boundaries – help them see how they could accomplish big, meaningful goals for the company
  3. Create value – ideally, we strove to create strategic advantage for the company
  4. Work for the Team – understanding the team and how they work is critical groundwork for a strategic plan

The process / framework would be the same, and has evolved over time.  The plan itself has simplified over time in order for it to be more practical, and its overall stickiness has improved with format and an instance on inclusion of those who would be impacted by the change.

But implementation – that is a different animal altogether. While I can check in with clients, I don’t “live” with them.  As soon as I walk out the door, the leaders that I work with will make decisions and prioritize the work.  So if alignment is lacking, when I return, progress may not be at the level that we planned.  Even when large firms “live” with their clients for months or years on end, the strategy implementation may still not achieve the goals that the company initially set out to achieve.

If I were to summarize the things that I think are critical to increasing the likelihood of successful implementation, I would boil it down to about 8 things:

  1. Align the team. Not the staff and employees.  Not the bosses and workers. The team. The group of people who are working together for a shared win.  If we don’t have the same vision of winning, the team will experience leakage.  Meaning that if you have a hose that has a hole in it, the amount of pressure toward a single point will be lower.  You can plan all day, but if everyone isn’t on board, then you won’t make progress.
  2. Have the mindset to win. Before going into the strategic planning process, if you aren’t willing to do the things that it will take to implement the plan, you need to stop before you even start.  While that may seem harsh, it is easy to see that the people who have accomplished the most have done what was necessary in order to do so.  I want to be clear that I am not saying that you have to work 20 hours per day and sleep in your office in order to achieve it.  From experience, the math doesn’t necessarily work out.
  3. Have access to your “people.”  As a founder or CEO, the journey is often lonely.  People who don’t do what you do just don’t understand it.  You’ve got to have close confidants that will support you, guide you, listen to you and provide good objective feedback.  Whether that is a board of directors, a mastermind group, a mentor, consultant or coach, having that other person or people will 100% make the difference when things get rough. And it will get rough.
  4. Know yourself. Really know yourself, and don’t lie to yourself.  If you aren’t the person who will get up at 5am to make things happen, don’t make that commitment.  The same way, if you aren’t the person who is going to make 100 calls per week, take 80 rejections, experience 7 meeting no-shows and lose 2 or 3 deals for your work, then you need to find another way to get it done.  Just because someone else says to you  “why can’t you just…” doesn’t mean that they know what they are talking about.
  5. Lead or get out of the way.  Not everyone is cut out to lead implementation of strategic initiatives.  In today’s language, we call them integrators, but good business operations professionals live for this.  Many CEO’s are more visionary than practical. When they try to be the boss, they tend to get in the way and muck things up.  As a founder or CEO, sometimes you just need to step back and let the professionals that you’ve hired do what they do.  Hopefully, it will be magical.
  6. Don’t compromise Just because it is harder, or more expensive, or it isn’t necessary are hardly excuses for lowering your target.  Are there things that simply won’t work? Yup.  Don’t beat your head against a wall that won’t move. At the same time, there is only 1 degree between 211 and 212 degrees, the difference between really hot and boiling water. Sometimes it takes just a little bit more effort, perhaps a slightly different perspective that will enable you to win.
  7. Ensure job / role fit. No coach has ever won a title by themselves.  Any wins have been the result of their investment in and development of their teams.  It means putting the right people in the right place and encouraging them to do the best at what they do.   Make your goal to enable them to operate in a place where they can function at their best.
  8. Write the plan down and share it with the team.  Don’t sit it on the shelf, stick it on your hard drive, stick it in a drawer, or use it to prop the door open. As a matter of fact, if it is too complicated, too thick, or too detailed the company, unfortunately, isn’t likely to get the value out of it that a simple, well-thought-out plan will give you and your team.

Putting these steps into action are foundational to successfully implement your company’s strategic plan and to support your company’s growth.   The process is complicated and will likely take a long time to do. But if done well, the benefits will far outweigh the cost and the achievement will produce the results that your company deserves.

Aepiphanni is a Business Consultancy that provides Advisory, Management Consulting, and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. We are the trusted advisor to those seeking forward-thinking operational and strategic solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Learn more about us at https://aepiphanni.com or register for a complimentary discovery session at http://coffeeandaconsult.com.

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