By Jeff Brunings
It’s Your Strategy So Why Don’t You Own It?

While the strategy itself is important, the ability to execute it is really what counts. Strategy is a word thrown around liberally in most organizations. Task forces are formed, consultants are hired, and extensive plans are written. Yet, still 90% of organizations are unable to implement what they’ve invested time, effort, and money into.

Consider just a few of the contributing factors:

  • Only 5% of the workforce understands their company’s strategy
  • Only 40% of organizations link budgets to strategy
  • 75% of organizations do not link middle management incentives to strategy

Organizations need a strategic management process to put strategy at the center of what they do.

A major force contributing to the successful implementation of a strategic plan is ownership. Like a catalyst, organization-wide ownership brings shape and tangibility to strategy. Without it, it’s simply business as usual for all except a frustrated few.

Learn from these three steps to ensure ownership is something that’s embraced. Not just by senior leadership, but every individual contributing to the execution of a strategy.

Step One: Create a detailed action plan.

A detailed action plan may be the single most effective practice in determining the success of a strategic plan. A detailed action plan involves each aspect of the strategy, but in greater detail with respect to specific actions that need to occur for the plan to be implemented. For each action item an individual is assigned a specific responsibility, a measure or goal is delineated, and a time frame within which the action item should be completed is agreed upon. In this way individuals have ownership, understand their roles and responsibilities, and are accountable for implementing a portion of the significant elements of the strategic plan.

Step Two: Designate a champion.

Even though assigning individual responsibilities in the detailed action plan is a way to get people involved in implementation, every successful strategic plan has a champion. A champion is a person devoted to the successful implementation of the strategy and plan. Better yet, it’s the creation of an ownership team who can leverage the talents of multiple people and exert more organizational leverage than a single champion. The role of the champion is to inform, sell, and rally your plan internally.

Step Three: Get management involved.

Management must stay committed to their involvement with the strategic plan and the review of its progress. Not doing so sends an implicit signal of lack of interest and support. It’s a rippling effect that weakens the motivation of both the champion and contributors supporting execution.

This isn’t the end, however. Following these three steps isn’t necessarily a get-out-of-jail-free card. Rather, it allows you to avoid the big house by giving your strategic plan the legs it needs to begin implementation. Building a strategy is great, but doing something with it is not only the hardest part but the most important part. Execution takes vigilance and dedication over an extended period of time, sometimes resulting in adjusting the course of your strategic plan. Give your plan a fighting chance of success by owning it from the get-go.

Jeff Brunings

With over 20 years management experience in multi-industry environments, Jeff drives customer experience by advancing the effectiveness of OnStrategy’s cloud-based platform and services.