What is Strategic Planning?
Successfully Execute Your Strategic Plan in 6 Steps
Are you looking for strategic plan steps to achieve your goals? Check out these six steps to executing your strategy and tips for avoiding delays.
Imagine driving a car and not knowing where you are, because you do not have a map. Picture how confused and lost you would feel as you keep moving. There may be so many turns on the way, but you would never know which one to take. How would you know where you’d end up?
You should think of driving your business the same way as driving a car. Without a plan, you will drive blindly. You might potentially make errors that can cost you money and market share. This is why a good strategic plan with executable steps is so important. Organisations won’t be successful without a well-thought-out strategic business plan. We’ve boiled the strategy execution process down to just six simple steps.
What is Strategic Planning?
A business cannot succeed if they operate without a plan. There is too much competition out there. Your competitors are constantly tweaking their strategic business plan to grab as many of your customers as possible. A strategic plan is like having a roadmap to define the best road for your business to drive on. Ideally, not the same road as too many other companies.
A strategic plan will thus help you establish the best direction for your business. It will help you look ahead and sharpen your focus to achieve specific goals, instead of doing too much all at once. A good strategic plan includes clear goals and targets to ensure that everyone on your team can succeed.
Strategic plan and strategy execution in 6 steps
Planning and executing a strategy can seem daunting. By following these six steps, you’re guaranteed to succeed.
1. Use an effective strategic planning framework
Although this may seem like a no-brainer, many businesses already fail on this first step. A strategic plan should be specific and actionable. It doesn’t help to set goals and write vaguely motivating slogans, instead of thinking about the actual steps you will take to achieve that goal.
Good strategic frameworks make sure that you translate your goals into clear, executable actions and steps. You should also think about the KPIs (key performance indicators) you want to use to monitor the progress of your plan. There are many effective strategic planning frameworks. An example is OGSM: this is a very easy-to-use planning that you can use to develop your strategic plan step by step.
2. Communicate your strategy
You need to let everybody in on your strategic plan and ensure buy-in as you create it. Don’t wait until the very end before springing it on everyone, because it will overwhelm people. Always start the process of engaging your team members from your planning stage.
You will be able to benefit from their knowledge and perspectives, and people will understand the plan better if they had a chance to think about it.
Exposure is the best way to test your strategy, and it helps build support and understanding for strategic priorities. Goals and strategies should generally be decided top-down, but valuable input on KPIs, projects and steps can be provided bottom-up. This process enables you to foster a collaborative and open culture by involving people and showing them that they can play an active role in the strategy development.
3. SMART Dashboard Measures & deliverable Action Measures
A strategic plan is incomplete without tangible Dashboard and Action Measures. These help to translate your strategies into measurable and deliverable components. Dashboard Measures should be SMART – specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic and time-bound – and you should use both leading and lagging indicators, so that your performance can be monitored and anticipated accurately.
Secondly, without linking your Strategies to your action plan, you will struggle to execute anything. Your dreams will tend to end up in a drawer if nobody understands how to make them reality. Think carefully about the effects you aim to realize with each action or project step. If there is a mismatch between your goals and the Action Measures you have planned, you should adjust course as soon as possible.
4. Report and track progress
When you have things up and running, you need to track your plan and set up your monitoring cycle. This is essential to keep everyone in the loop and manage the execution of your strategic plan. Without reporting and progress tracking, it’s easy to lose sight of the strategy and get bogged down into the details of everyday work. Tracking your goals helps keep yourself and your team accountable.
The first thing you need to do is ensure that everyone in your company is regularly updating their (or their teams’) progress in connection to the relevant SMART goals. This does not need to be a long process: all you must do is spend a few minutes every month before meetings. A strategic planning tool like OGSM Software can lend you a hand and will automatically create red or green flags based on your progress to date.
5. Adjust course and manage performance
If you monitor your progress accurately, you will notice that some things won’t go exactly as planned. Some people may let you down or projects might get delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. However, if you have your monitoring systems in place, you will quickly notice delays and problems, allowing you to swiftly adjust course and shift resources around.
Remember that strategic goals are never static. Strategic plans can cover periods of five or seven years, but you should revise your strategic plan regularly. If goals turn out to be unrealistic, you need to either change the strategies, or increase the level of resource commitment. Performance management and strategic re-alignment should be a natural part of the strategy execution.
6. Motivate and reward your teams with a "Celebration board"
Remember that many people only work for money, and may not feel as passionate about your steps in strategic planning. Therefore, you need to incentivise and motivate people to care. With a reward system, you can motivate people to take your strategic plan seriously and achieve their goals within the deadlines. Rewards do not need to always be monetary.
You can set up a virtual celebration board, for example, to recognize the contribution that teams or individuals have made. The key is to build a culture of effective execution. This can be done if you successfully link rewards to your strategic business plan.
Execute successful strategies with OGSM Software
Now that you know the 6 strategic plan steps, you should let those creative juices flow. Consider using our platform to shape your strategy and to make it work for anyone, at any time. OGSM Software is a strategy execution tool that is designed to follow these six steps and is easy for everyone to use. Contact us today, and we look forward to helping you realise your business dreams.
Frequently asked questions about Strategic Planning
Good strategy means making tough choices: where do you focus your efforts, and what do you choose not to do? For optimal results, all your Strategies should clearly contribute to the Goals. One way to do this is to use the “what-by-how” formula, ensuring you make a direct link between Goals and Strategies. For example: “Increase our market share in the retail segment by releasing a new TV-focused marketing campaign.”
A goal is a quantitative result that you’re trying to achieve, for example a certain level of customer satisfaction, cost efficiency or revenue. A strategy is the how: what specific choices are you making to achieve this goal? Actions are the concrete steps you need to take to execute this strategy.
By linking your Strategy to a clear set of Dashboard Measures and monitoring them with OGSM Software, you will visualise your progress toward the successful execution of the strategy. This is a powerful way to motivate people and helps you adjust course quickly when the results don’t meet the expectations.
There are many ways to include your team in the process of strategy execution. You can involve them in thinking along while making your strategic plan, but you should also try to motivate them by showing how their performance contributes to reaching collective goals, and by celebrating successes together.