How to make your Strategic Plan a success - Part 1
As some of the top business brains say, you can have the best strategy in the world but it’s not worth the paper it’s written on if you don’t know how to deliver. Every strategy, regardless of what it sets out to do, will benefit from taking a step-by-step approach to get the job done. In part one of this article, I outline the activities that help you set off at speed and set the right priorities from the start.
Identify potential obstacles
Before you gear up your strategy and start briefing it through to your team, it would be wise to square up to obstacles that could scupper or delay your plan. Potential obstacles could be:
- A team that is highly resistant to change
- Key personnel leaving
- Partner or other chain-of-supply delays
- Funding shortfalls
- Recent marketplace changes
Consider these obstacles in advance and discuss ways to overcome them. This will help you build resilience into your approach from the start.
Don’t let your resources drive your strategy
On first view, it may appear prudent to only use the resources you already have when applying your new strategy. This can work if you want to implement change at a slower, more organic pace. However, if you are in a highly competitive marketplace and you actively need to grow your business, you will need to invest in new resources. It’s worth noting that a solid strategic plan can also help you secure the funds you need to pay for people, assets, stock or third party services.
Before you start, make sure you’ve identified your most important objectives. Using a Priority Matrix, assess each strategic move and give it an order of priority within your plan.
This ensures less important initiatives don’t claw at your vital resources. Make sure to balance your short term and longer term objectives as well to ensure your future business success (see last week’s blog for more on this point)
Break it down
There can be nothing more daunting to consider than a long-term plan. In our hyper-reactive world full of one-click wonders, it seems increasingly hard to get our teams to focus on the bigger picture. This is why it’s so essential to break plans down into smaller, more easily digestible parts. I started this Strategy blog series by advocating one-year strategic reviews. For you, the business owner or manager, it’s important that you can plan and think longer term. However, once you get to the implementation phase, breaking down delivery into short time periods is essential. To start with, block out your annual plan into four x 90-day schedules. Get a detailed view of what you need to do in the next 90 days, to get your plan off to the best start. Then within your 90-day plan, I also recommend breaking down project timelines further still.
When I worked in the technology sector, I became a great fan of a project management tactic called ‘The Sprint’. A Sprint is typically a 10-day period where a team will work on a particular task or inter-related group of smaller tasks. Why 10 days you ask? Research indicated that the human mind responds better to goals that are set in the near future. A week was seen as too little time. If the goal was set a month hence, there was a lower sense of urgency, which results in poorer time planning over time. In comparison, a 10-day period provided the optimum sense of urgency and comfort. This approach coupled with the other project management tips below is my tried and tested way to keep strategies on track.
Early on, it can be very helpful to identify elements of your strategy that have high impact and are relatively easy to role out (see Priorities Matrix above). When prioritised as first moves, these ‘Quick Wins’ help get your team on board and build confidence in the larger strategy.
In Part 2 of this article, I'll look at important team management and wrap up activities that will drive your strategy delivery and build success for the longer term.
If you are looking for support with the development of a new Sales & Marketing Plan or a Business Funding Plan, please get in touch.
I can support you by producing a Sales & Marketing Plan or coaching you through the process of developing your own Plan. I also collaborate on a regular basis with my network of trusted advisors to produce or advise on the development of Business Funding Plans for growing SMEs.
If you need support delivering your strategy on a month-to-month basis, I also offer coaching and and advisory sessions that will help keep you on track for success.