A Strategic Plan Should Answer the “Why”

Friday, July 8 2022

Joe O’Neill – Many people reading this blog will have a strategic plan binder in their office, quite possibly gathering dust. Businesses perform better with an effectively implemented strategic plan, but it is a surprisingly rare phenomenon. Norton and Kaplan, in their book The Execution Premium note that well over 50% of strategic plans are never implemented.

Include Others When Creating a Strategic Plan

There are plenty of reasons for this, but let’s focus on the chronic failure of entrepreneurs to provide the team responsible for delivering a strategic plan with the chance to contribute to its development. More specifically, if the business owner seeks to deliver an effective strategy, the team needs to understand the why of the business… why the business is successful, and their role in that success.

Things to Help Your Team Understand the Why:

1. If you hire a consultant to facilitate the development of a strategic plan use one who insists not only on your involvement, but the entire team responsible for its execution and delivery.

2. If you haven’t done so already, ensure the team understands the key success factors for the business, why those factors are relevant, and the impact if they are absent.

3. Sell the team on the benefits of actively participating in the process because successful strategic plans happen when team members feel their opinions are heard and valued.

4. Encourage open dialogue and risk-free expression of opinions among teammates. They know best what challenges exist and appreciate the opportunities these can represent.

5. Develop S.M.A.R.T. goals. (Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, and Target Date).

6. Clearly define expected results. Engage your team and encourage them to take ownership of their roles and to build an understanding about why executing their part of the plan is critical to its success.

7. Set milestone dates (perhaps quarterly) to meet and assess results.

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