We are discussing the root causes of poor implementation in a series of posts.  Part 5 covers the fifth root cause of poor implementation.

The plan attempts too much too quickly

This is probably the second most common issue, and, as we said, sometimes difficult to distinguish from issue 3 (The implementation is given insufficient resources). As managers, and as teams, we all seem to have eyes that are much bigger than our stomachs. If five objectives are good, ten must be better, right?

Well, wrong… ten objectives are almost always worse, from an implementation perspective, than

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

five. There are two key reasons for this. First, we psychologically tend to focus more on items when they are limited in quantity. Everyone in your company is likely to know your company’s objectives if you only have four or five. If you have forty-two (we call this a “laundry list”), chances are no one will know most of them, and few will even care. This is not because your employees are bad – rather, it’s because it’s not humanly possible for a group of people to remember and properly prioritize forty-two objectives.

The solution for this issue is simple, but often difficult. Don’t let yourself tackle more objectives than you can handle. If you had trouble with nine last year, try seven this year. In our experience, implementation is optimized somewhere between five and ten objectives, depending on the organization, its culture and resources.

In the past few posts, we have discussed just a few of the most common implementation issues we run into in our work as strategy consultants, assisting companies like your own in strategic planning. It’s not exhaustive, but hopefully, as you get out your plans for this year, you will think about taking some of the steps outlined here to improve your implementation.

Is your company having a hard time implementing your strategic plan?  Let us know how you are dealing with it – or, better yet, attend our amazing, data-driven workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning to learn how to develop and implement your strategic plan.  Our highly acclaimed Simplified Strategic Planning approach has helped many hundreds of organizations improve their strategies and bottom line results with effective, actionable strategies.  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 rbradford@cssp.com.

© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution

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