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Why is Executing a Strategic Plan so Hard for Management?

October 10, 2007

I saw a quote the other day from Fortune that said, “Less than 10% of strategies effectively formulated are effectively executed.”  The author, like most I’ve read, went on to cover a comprehensive approach to solve this problem.  Comprehensive starts to get complex pretty quick, pretty soon it looks harder than ever to execute a strategic plan.

What if there’s something really quite SIMPLE that explains why people struggle with executing their strategic plan or reaching their strategic objectives and initiatives?  What if it’s not doing the simple that trips people up, not something complex?

I think success is in the middle of SIMPLE.  If it’s complex, complicated, involved… guess what, its probably going to get pushed to the back when something simple and immediate is pressing every day.  Here’s two SIMPLE observations about succeeding at executing a strategic plan:

1. If you have a strategic goal, you must have a plan for accomplishing it (not milestones or high level initiatives, but an actual step-by-step plan), and you must have one or more metrics for measuring if you are on track – if you don’t, it’s not going to work. 

2. The second simple is, if you want to execute the plan, assign people and follow-up regularly.  E.g. someone has to work the plan, report what happened, such that you can make adjustments to the plan on the way to the strategic goal. – If you don’t do this the goal will remain an aspiration or best intent.

Strategic Execution starts looking really SIMPLE:
1. Goal +
2. Plan +
3. Metrics +
4. People working the Plan +
5. Regular Follow-up to Review Progress & Adjust the Plan.
One more SIMPLE observation, if you don’t do these SIMPLE STEPS… for whatever reason, you’re most likely going to be in the 90% group that doesn’t execute. 

2 Comments. Leave new

Strategic Planning - 3 Secrets to Keeping it Relevant
January 28, 2009 9:27 am

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I’m glad I found your article, Rodney. It caused me to really think about how often I see managers stumble during strategic planning process, which results in poor execution. Your take on “success in the middle of SIMPLE” is refreshing. Along the same lines, I just read Sean Covey’s 4 Disciplines of Execution and found it to be incredibly enlightening. If you haven’t read it use this coupon code and get 45% off before Friday:4DXOct19 (http://bit.ly/covey4dx). Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


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