As a new year begins, many organizations will formulate and launch a strategic plan, which is essentially a high level description of what you intend to do, what you do not intend to do, and how you will move from where you are to where you want to be. Naturally, the goals of these plans will vary; and while some of these plans may be designed for completion or goal achievement within the year, others may target longer periods of time.
But regardless of objective or time span, all too often, strategic plans do not deliver expected results and senior leaders wonder what happened — was it a flawed strategy or poor execution?
To be successful, strategic planning requires a mix of imagination and realism.
- Imagination to describe an innovative product or service, or a way to market for which there is little or no competition
- Realism to make sure that there is a practical way of executing the strategy
A few best practices that can help leaders formulate and execute strategic plans include:
- Assess current reality and opportunities, both external and internal
- Develop and communicate mission and vision
- Define the gaps between “is” and “needs to be” and set the right goals
- Develop, assess and select strategic alternatives
- Compare best practices to ensure the strategy can be executed
- Convert strategy into action, using strategy maps or similar tools
- Launch and build high performance teams and work groups to execute the strategy
- Maintain robust communication throughout the execution phase, including regular interactions with all stakeholders
- Measure both progress and results