Why strategic plans fail. In my last post, I talked about the issues people have with keeping their strategic planning alive. Today, I’d like to discuss some specific techniques I’ve seen companies use routinely to solve those problems. Companies that achieved 100% of their objectives and had excellent financial performance used these tips.
Treat the planning meetings as a routine, regularly scheduled event
To keep your strategic planning alive, consider it an annual event and keep it on a fixed schedule. Top performing companies usually take care to schedule the planning when its least likely to interfere with critical activities. They often schedule the meetings at the beginning of the year. This way something is wrong if they don’t start the next cycle of strategic planning on time.
Have monthly review meetings to stay on top of execution
If you’ve attended a Simplified Strategic Planning Seminar, you’ve already heard this tip. It bears repeating, however, because so few companies actually do this. This activity is one of three key practices that separate companies that achieve over 80% of their objectives from others. The norm achieves just 30%. There is simply no substitute for a short meeting every month to assure that the strategic priorities are moving forward.
Have action plan teams meet at least monthly
In addition to having monthly meetings, require that action plan teams meet before the monthly review meeting. Not only will they be more aware of implementation activities, they will have a chance to “catch up” on any activities that are behind schedule.
Never postpone any planning activity for more than one month, if possible
This is a paraphrase of the unwritten rules I’ve seen in many top performing companies. The underlying idea is that a month of wiggle room is OK, since we have to operate in the real world. More than a month means we need to reconsider the resources we are using and how realistic the schedule is. Knowing that a longer delay will lead to serious re-scheduling also motivates some executives to stay on track.
Adjust resource requirements (and expectations) instead of postponing
Again, this is the kind of adjustment you can make if you have monthly monitoring meetings. You may need to re-think the people who are committed to the actions. And how much time and money you are willing to set aside for them. This may require changes in your objectives, but you will still maintain forward motion with your execution. For example, you may decide you only have the resources for one new product, instead of three, or that you can only hire one engineer per quarter instead of two. These kinds of adjustments may be frustrating, but they will assure that your execution stays on track.
Are you having a hard time keeping your strategic planning alive? If you’d like help with that, consider holding a one-day workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning.
M. Dana Baldwin is Senior Strategist with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org