Successful strategic planning and execution requires a commitment to engaging all stakeholders. You must consider not just their tasks and roles, but the value each individual brings to the overall plan.
– Al Emerick, Founder, Value Mapping
What are you missing in your business strategy?Wayne W. Eckerson, author of Performance Dashboards, Measuring, Monitoring and Managing Your Business, tells us “Executives spend days or weeks devising well-crafted strategies and then throw them ‘over the wall’ to the rest of the company, hoping and praying that their vision will bear fruit.”Let’s look at the flaws that can plunge your brightest strategies into a black hole. In my experience, most companies miss at least one of these components. By failing to consider each of these, company decision makers put their organization’s future at risk.
- Failure to assess and understand the talent you have on board
I’ve seen it happen in the nonprofit, corporate and start-up worlds: decision makers try to introduce a strategic plan without looking at the people who will be charged with executing it. It’s not enough to look at leaders and management. There has to be a focus on the “doers.”If you’re a football coach, you are going to have a problem running a fast, hard-charging West Coast offense if all of your wide receivers are slow or don’t understand that they have to get faster. As a manager, you need to know your players, too. What are their individual strengths and limitations? How do they fit in? What value do they bring to the organization as well as to the overall plan?Use the best tools you can find to assess your talent and the value each player brings to the organization. Communicate it. When your people see that you understand their value, they’ll be far more likely to buy into the vision you present.
- Failure to align strategy with your organization’s value
Misalignment makes for a rocky ride in a vehicle and in an organization. Often, it’s a matter of rushing in to make changes without realizing that everyone needs to understand their role and significance to the overall plan.It may seem simple from 20,000 feet up, but look down the line – at the people who are in the trenches. Say you have Joe or Jane putting lug nuts on a tire. If they miss one, it might not seem that important to them because they are focused on the tire. They figure, “this will hold”. True, the vehicle might run OK for awhile, but eventually there are going to be problems and the whole vehicle breaks down. Unless your team members have a clear understanding of how their jobs impact the whole process, even the most brilliant strategies will stall out. They need to know that the missing lug nut impacts the car bumper-to-bumper and could mean the difference between life and death.So before you throw your great plan “over the wall,” step back and make sure you communicate what it means to each person who is part of the process and ensure they understand their value. It might take longer to get up and running, but it’s worth the extra time to have everyone in alignment.
- Failure to communicate a plan’s purpose and impact
A successful strategic plan has a purpose everyone in your value chain can understand. Why are you changing things in the first place? It’s important to communicate this clearly. Will the strategy grow your business? Will it increase profits? How will the end result “trickle down” to the people answering phones and mopping floors? And why should they care? How do they impact the outcomes?Communicate that impact in discussions with leaders, managers, teams and individuals: “Here’s what we’re doing. This is your role. This is the value you bring to that role.” When you can communicate that, you not only raise your credibility, you have a better chance of employee acceptance, engagement and retention – all keys to a sustainable organization.When your employees know where they fit, why they’re valuable, and understand how they reflect the company’s value to its customers, your strategy’s on a clearer path to success.