By Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO
One of the sticky problems most people face in strategic planning is execution. Over 80% of executives we survey in our seminars cite strategy implementation as their biggest issue with strategic planning. Meeting strategic objectives is difficult enough that many companies bypass this part of the strategy process and focus most of their effort on key performance metrics. While performance metrics – such as Balanced Scorecard – can play a useful role in implementing strategy, they tend to fall short in the areas of true strategic change and innovation. This is because good strategies – for many companies – may involve forays into new technologies, markets and processes.
In such situations, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to manage change through the use of metrics – especially since the management team, while familiar with their current operational metrics, may have little experience with understanding the numbers in new areas. A good example of this can be seen in the transition from using print and broadcast advertising to advertising using SEO and social networks. An experienced hand at print advertising could, indeed, make good inroads in digital marketing, but the numbers will at first seem meaningless – and then, possibly, much too large or small. This is because the nature of interaction changes when you make such a big strategic shift – and the value of the eyeballs you may be accessing with your advertising can change dramatically based upon how they are targeted. The metrics of the one world simply don’t help manage the metrics of the other, except at a very basic accounting level.
Getting real strategic objectives completed, then, is rarely a matter of moving the needle on a metric. It’s much more likely to be a learning activity where the objective is simply knowing how to do the things needed – and then, ideally defining a path to mastery.
Without question, the greatest tools for getting this kind of objective done are project-based, and tend to have three things in common:
- Sound objective setting
- Realistic resource allocation
- Routine progress review
A process that assures a simple, but robust approach to these things will greatly enhance real strategic activity directed towards your objectives. How does your process stack up?
To learn ways to take your strategic planning to the next level please listen to our webinar: Why my strategic planning isn’t working.
Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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