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Monday, March 12, 2012

Operationalizing Your Strategic Plan

I've facilitated a few dozen strategic and annual business planning sessions. I've seen how some of them work and how a lot of them fail.

There are so many extraneous reasons why a plan would fail  but today, I'd like to talk about a few things that are within control and how managers like you and me can do something about them.

Drilling Down to Departmental Action Plans
Many Management Teams like to talk high level. Sure, they like to distribute goals to departmental levels and maybe go as far as identifying departmental initiatives so that managers of these departments are made accountable for their goals and their commitments. When it comes to coming up with action plans that detail initiatives into monitor-able set of milestones, they don't want to hear about it. There's probably a host of reason why they don't want it. They want flexibility. There are so many things happening everyday that they need to respond to so, they want to have the freedom to deal with the details of their plans if and when they can. The fact that our daily work can overwhelm us is exactly the reason why planning should go down to the details of actions and not just initiatives.

Monitoring Your Plan
For many companies, the second time the whole management team hears the plan is the next planning session, when they are reviewing last year's plan in preparation for the next year's plan. This is poor practice. When planning is complete, initiatives are broken down to action steps with time frames and are therefore track-able. I recommend regular monitoring of not just key indicators but also action plan milestones. This will help the company  figure out if initiatives are being carried out as planned and if they are being effective, well ahead of the next planning session. If we know how our plan is working, it gives us the impetus to move ahead or rethink our initiatives. It helps us to be more flexible.

Establishing Key Performance Indicators and Targets
Plans are means to certain ends. It is important to identify the needed change in performance, when and how they are expected to happen. By creating a scoreboard and naming the people for keeping the numbers up, we see a direct connection between people, performance and plans. As they say, what gets measured, gets managed. What gets rewarded, gets done.

I believe every manager should be trained on how to do this. ExeQserve is running a workshop on Departmental Planning. I strongly suggest that you send your managers to this training and help them plan their departmental activities in a way that aligns and contributes to organizational goals and strategies.

Workshop on How to Prepare a Departmental Plan - ExeQserve

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