Denise Harrison

Strategic Planning Expert

By Denise Harrison, Executive Vice President and COO

Are you achieving your strategy or are you slipping?  How can you keep your team on track?  Monitoring is one of the key aspects of successful execution.  Here is a monitoring checklist – if you can accomplish these items you are well on your way to successful execution:

  1. Meet monthly to discuss progress on key strategic initiatives.
  2. Team leaders should have action plans updated before the meeting.
  3. Ensure that all members of the strategic planning team are present.
    1. Discuss last month’s achievements
    2. Discuss and schedule what is planned for the coming month
  4. Resolve shortfalls in progress and roadblocks.
    1. Solve the problem (rather than assess blame)
    2. Determine what it will take to get plan back on track and reallocate resources to achieve your desired results and timeframe
  5. Discuss any changes to business conditions – does this require a change in strategy/strategic initiative?  If so, discuss what course corrections are necessary.
    1. Stop/change any strategic initiatives that are no longer deemed important to achieving the strategy.
  6. Review new opportunities
    1. Assess if they need to go on the list by replacing an initiative already on the list
    2. If they are not more important than what has already been selected, then save for the next strategy planning cycle
  7. Walk out of the meeting with a clear picture of what will be accomplished before the next meeting.

If you are able to achieve all of the items on the checklist, you will achieve your strategic objectives faster by executing more efficiently.

Potential pitfalls?

Here are some pitfalls that I have observed over the years:

  1. Meetings that are held sporadically or infrequently – this makes it harder to get action plans back on track.
  2. Blame rather than problem solving – leaders fix problems rather than point fingers.
  3. Review by exception rather than review of each plan – it is important that each strategic initiative has visibility as a reminder of its importance to achieving the strategy.
  4. Adding strategic initiatives without taking any away.  This results in dilution of resources and often lowers margins and slows execution.
  5. Declaring victory before objective is achieved – yes, it is wonderful to release a new product, but it is better if the new product achieves its revenue and margin goals.

Avoiding these pitfalls by following the checklist will keep your plan on track. Would you like to learn more about executing your strategic plan?  Please listen to our webinar: Strategic Execution: Path to Profitability by clicking on Strategic Execution.

Denise Harrison is Executive Vice President and COO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  She can be reached at

© Copyright 2013 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

1 Comment

  1. Jay

    Thank you for helping me to bridge that gap between planning and execution.


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