Be honest… are you going to be on track to achieve everything you planned YTD by the end of the 2nd quarter this year? Revenues? Expenses? Profitability? Other KPIs? Strategic Initiatives? Major Projects? Chances are you’ve fallen short, so throughout this month, I’ll share ways to get back on track before it’s too late.
Most likely, you started the calendar year with a Strategic Plan chock-full of all the things you know you need to do to be successful this year. But as we’ve all found out at one time or another, planning and execution are two different things.
3 Ways to Get Back on Track This Week to Execute With Excellence
1. There are dozens of books on the subject, hundreds of executive programs that teach strategic planning, and thousands of consultants who facilitate SWOT analyses and more… so why isn’t it easier? Over the past several years, I’ve been privileged to work with numerous organizations to transform their conventional Strategic Planning efforts into Strategic Thinking that delivers results. Here’s what I’ve found that needs to change.
Conventional strategic planning is based on outdated Second World War approaches to command and control, and anyone who’s ever spent time in the military will confirm that “no plan survives first contact.” Business in those days moved at a pace where an organization could set 25-year goals. Now, with the rate of change in the fast-paced global economy and multiple generations in the workforce, developing a 25-month plan is a challenge in some industries.
Solution: Get back on track by having every member of your management team answer this question: “We would be successful this year if we just completed… “ If they don’t all have the same answer, you have some work to do.
2. Less is more. I routinely review previous strategic plans that have 40-60 action items in them. Invariably, most of them start with “develop a plan…” and the monthly status reports all say “in progress”. There’s never any light at the end of the tunnel, and never any sense of completion. In our increasing attention-deficit world, the research shows that organizations who achieve their results focus on only 1-2 key initiatives at a time. It doesn’t mean that you’ll only get 1 -2 done this year… just that you focus and complete those before moving on to the next.
Solution: Get back on track when you stop using the term “Develop a plan…” in relation to ANY strategic initiatives. It must be banished from your vocabulary because it’s an INPUT, not an OUTCOME. Which of these two action items are likely to result in what you really want?
- “Plan a vacation…”
- “Enjoy the Electric Light Parade at Disneyland on our son’s 10th birthday”.
Get it? Develop the vocabulary of outcomes (it’s a bit of an art) and you’ll see results.
3. Strategic initiatives are different from your day job. It’s a different game, with different rules. I liken the “day job” to baseball – lots of pop flys, fouls, slides, dives, dropped catches and so on. It’s messy, and it will never change or go away. You can’t tame it, you have to work within it. Strategic initiatives are more like football. Just move the ball down the field, even if it’s only a yard at a time.
Solution: Get back on track by playing baseball 90% of the time. But every week, carve out between 90 minutes to a ½ day to play football, and you’ll see results. My ProfitU™ and GrowU™ programs rely on that strategy and regularly deliver results for clients.
If you’re spending more time writing status reports and chasing bright shiny objects than getting things done, and frustrated with having nothing to show for all the seemingly endless hours and money invested in the planning process, let’s talk about shifting your current Strategic Planning practices into a more agile and flexible 21st Century Strategic Thinking Process and get back on track. It will transform your Strategic Planning binder into a one-page strategic snapshot that delivers alignment from boardroom to mailroom, AND provides everything you need to structure and WIN your weekly football game. It’s a process I’ve refined over the past 15 years that is simple in concept, energizing yet challenging to develop the first time, yet learnable and doable.