The number of organizations doing some sort of an
annual strategic plan has increased significantly. However, most of them don’t even achieve 20% of their strategic plan
— why? The top three reasons based on over five years of leader sessions conducted by the CenTex OpEx Consortium are:
- Strategic plan was not realistic for the resources
plan was finalized too late
- Execution started too late
We repeatedly see execution starting too late because the strategic plan was not finalized on time
or because the organization was lacking the right resources from the beginning. When a plan is of strategic importance to
an organization, it is vital to verify the right resources are available to carry out the strategy. Tweaking, experimenting,
and tampering with the system due to inadequate expertise only makes things worse. Leadership needs to be able to identify
early on when the plan is not on track. OpEx Solutions often gets called in late Q3 or even in Q4 to play catch up. Sometimes,
OpEx Solutions is expected to magically achieve in two to three months, what the organization has not been able to achieve
in nine months, and, in many cases, what they have not been able to achieve for a year and nine months!
As an example, one of our clients finalized their strategic plan toward the end of April of the
current year and hardly had enough time to execute it. Summer months are traditionally vacation time with fewer employees.
After summer employees start planning for the next year, so this is not the most productive time.
In another organization, the strategic plan was completed on time, but, no one knew their targets
and life was going on as usual. Employees had no way to tell whether they were on track, the strategic planning was just a
leadership exercise with no reality check and no one took it seriously.
Another organization, had so many mega-initiatives, that there was no way they could achieve anything in one year.
The organization structure changed before they could achieve any of those initiatives even though early on that was where
most of the efforts were focused.
If the targets and initiatives are
truly of strategic importance for the growth or survival of the organization, they need to be taken seriously. The plan cannot
be ignored. There are some steps that can be taken to help ensure execution:
- Verify that the targets are feasible, and, if not, adjust the resources or the targets
- Develop a cascaded action plan to accomplish the initiatives and hit the targets
- Develop a visual management system to ensure you are on track to execute your plan and achieve your goals
These three actions should be carried out very quickly in order to accomplish most of the strategic
plan. In most of the small to midsized organizations, there is no dedicated staff to perform these three tasks; nevertheless,
the organizations attempt to do it themselves and the time slips by and another year is gone.
So, what are the early indicators that reveal whether to back out or ask for help —
- Have you agreed on a strategic plan by mid-January?
you have a cascaded plan by end of January?
- Are you on track with your plan
at the end of February?
If the answer to any of these is “NO”,
you have to make some adjustments. Typically, it is more expensive if you avoid expert help when needed.
Following this very pragmatic approach should set you on the path to making 2018 a great year!