By Erica Olsen
Avoid the 11 Strategic Implementation Pitfalls

Wondering why your strategic plan never got implemented? Every year, organizations labor at planning, yet many never seem to turn this planning into action. Before you sit down with your team to develop or review your strategic plan, make sure you’re aware of these potential implementation traps:

  1. Lack of ownership: The most common reason a plan fails is lack of ownership. If people don’t have a stake and responsibility in the plan, it’ll be business as usual for all but a frustrated few.
  2. Lack of communication: The plan doesn’t get communicated to employees, and they don’t understand how they contribute.
  3. Getting mired in the day-to-day: Owners and managers, consumed by daily operating problems, lose sight of long-term goals.
  4. Out of the ordinary: The plan is treated as something separate and removed from the management process.
  5. An overwhelming plan: The goals and actions generated in the strategic planning session are too numerous because the team failed to make tough choices to eliminate non-critical actions. Employees don’t know where to begin.
  6. A meaningless plan: The vision, mission, and value statements are viewed as fluff and not supported by actions or don’t have employee buy-in.
  7. Annual strategy: Strategy is only discussed at yearly weekend retreats.
  8. Not considering implementation: Implementation isn’t discussed in the strategic planning process. The planning document is seen as an end in itself.
  9. No progress report: There’s no method to track progress, and the plan only measures what’s easy, not what’s important. No one feels any forward momentum.
  10. No accountability: Accountability and high visibility help drive change. This means that each measure, objective, data source, and initiative must have an owner.
  11. Lack of empowerment: Although accountability may provide strong motivation for improving performance, employees must also have the authority, responsibility, and tools necessary to impact relevant measures. Otherwise, they may resist involvement and ownership. It’s easier to avoid pitfalls when they’re clearly identified. Now that you know what they are, you’re more likely to jump right over them!