I’m proud to have been involved in several organizational turnarounds and rapid growth initiatives, facilitated by great planning AND execution. I’d like to share a summary of what I see as the magic formula.

Strategic planning starts with five key elements that become the filter for all activities in the organization:

  • Mission — why we exist
  • Vision — what we want to be
  • Values — non-negotiable beliefs that dictate behavior
  • Differentiators — unique characteristics and capabilities that make us compelling to our customers
  • Ideal Customer — profile of the perfect client

Once these filters are clear, we can define specific, measurable goals that reinforce and extend our differentiation while delighting our customers. Those goals are then translated into action plans, or individual projects that contribute to the goals.

Most organizations, if they even get this far, stop here. But this is where the work, and the magic, really starts.

Now it’s time to create clear accountability. Every project in the strategic plan needs an executive sponsor and project team. The measurable goals, that we defined earlier, can now be assigned to the respective executive sponsors. And those goals can be decomposed and assigned to individual project team members. Ultimately, every employee has a set of performance objectives that is aligned with the overall strategy.

But we’re not done yet. It is the responsibility of the organization’s leader (e.g. the CEO) to then communicate the mission, vision, values, differentiators, ideal customer profile, goals and action plans to the organization. We would typically send the CEO on a roadshow to visit each location and explain the plan.

In the end, every member of the team understands the strategy and his or her specific role.

Finally, we monitor project performance on a weekly basis and have the executive sponsors and project managers report to the CEO monthly or, sometimes, quarterly. Adjustments are easily made based on timely, objective information, and the impact to the broad strategy is understood.

If this process seems simple, it is. Of course, it’s certainly not easy. But, when followed religiously, the result is a fully aligned organization that flawlessly executes the strategy. And the organization just has to perform better. In fact, I’ve never seen this formula not work.

Obviously, this is a very brief summary of a significant methodology. Please share your experience. We’d love to hear from you. And, as always, feel free to contact me to discuss in greater detail.

Author: Burke Autrey

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