Monday, August 2, 2010

Are Your Strategic Planning Efforts Doomed to Failure Before You Start?

(from Issues for Growth Vol. 19, No. 9)

In recent weeks more economists are now predicting an extended period of slow growth. Slow growth does not mean the end of opportunities. It does, however, mean that the margin for error can be less. False starts may mean quarters or even years of the penalty of lost opportunity. Organizations must be prepared to be well-aligned and execute well. Successful organizations in this new market will be those that can adapt quickly to changes in the market. How agile is your organization? – DPM

Are Your Strategic Planning Efforts Doomed To Failure Before You Start?

It’s time to begin to get your plans in place. Before you have that deep sigh of resignation, ask yourself a few questions.

· Does your company’s planning process ever yield real results?

· Do you go through a long, tedious process year after year that you and your managers dread?

· Are there barriers in your organization that now protect the status quo and prevent you from moving forward?

Perhaps the approach is flawed!

Years of either poor planning or no planning have created unintended consequences for many organizations. These organizations unintentionally have created barriers that prevent them from developing a meaningful plan. It could be because of a history of unreasonable expectations and unachievable goals, a history of abandoned projects, or a lack of internal knowledge and understanding about customers, competitors, and the market.

Barriers to Planning Success

· History of only partially developing plans
· History of unreasonable expectations and unachievable goals
· Lack of internal understanding about customers , competitors, and the market

In addition to barriers to planning, company teams have a lack of confidence and skepticism about their ability to execute plans. This could come from a company history of abandoning projects, a history of unclear objectives and metrics, too many strategies and plans, a history of poor communication, a history of poor delegation and leadership, gaps in management capability, or a lack of true accountability.

Barriers to Execution Success

· Gaps in management depth
· History of abandoning projects
· History of lack of openness and poor communications
· History of poor delegation and leadership development
· Lack of true accountability

Organizations that have barriers to planning and execution have one characteristic in common: there is little or no connection between the plans they create and management behavior around execution. Most management teams quickly get swept away with the urgency of the day-to-day business and the plan is forgotten.

So what can you do to change this counterproductive cycle? Try a better approach!

Before you start

· Examine past strategic planning and execution efforts

· Identify the organizational barriers to success – Develop plans to fix these barriers

· Use a new approach to strategic planning

· Less is more – Better to have three strategies with great focus than seven with poor focus

· Realistic and achievable – Unachievable goals end in frustration and abandonment

· Validate plans with the market – make certain you understand how customers and competitors will react to your plans

· Break into small bites with near-term actions – build momentum by getting some early

- Create 90-day action plans, recheck, and re-evaluate

· Clear and Understandable – to everyone in the organization

· Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

· Metrics – develop quantifiable measurements of progress

· Track the progress– regular monitoring and adjustment

· Adjust and Recalibrate

Understanding the barriers to planning and execution are critical. Companies that have addressed the barriers are amazed at how much more their management teams are engaged and how the process energizes the entire organization. CEOs of companies with years of poor planning and execution history find that their organizations are far more capable than they ever imagined of achieving superior results.

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