3 Simple Reasons to Focus on Execution, Not Planning

A major pain point in the strategic planning process is transitioning between finishing your plan and putting it into execution. Why can it be so difficult moving into execution?

There are a multitude of situations why it’s difficult to move from planning to execution, but we have identified three simple reasons why you could be having a hard time:

Reason #1 – You’ve exhausted your resources

Plain and simple, strategic planning can be a strenuous and resource draining exercise. Sure, you create an “all-inclusive” plan that covers every scenario you could face in the future. But what good is it if you’ve spent all of your time and financial resources on creating a plan rather than executing it?

Reason #2 – There’s no energy

Similar to reason #1, if your planning process was long, arduous, and time-consuming, you might have burned all the gas in the tank before you even started executing it. Don’t completely drain your team making the perfect plan. Get it to “good” then light the fire during execution. Even if the plan isn’t perfect, it’s better to have energy around execution than around a plan that will just sit and collect dust.

Reason #3 – Your plan is “over-engineered”

Your plan is thoughtful. It’s strategic. It’s everything you wanted it to be. But it’s too big and too complicated for your team to actually execute. Great thinking can easily be ruined by a plan that’s too complicated to follow and execute. Keep it strategic, but make it simple enough to execute. Overcomplicating the planning process is one of the biggest reasons organizations fail to move from planning to execution. Even the best plans need to have people dedicated to their execution.

As you complete your planning process, be aware of how much of your time, talent, and resources go into the plan’s creation. Don’t get buried beneath your plan. Instead, get through the planning process and save your energy to execute against it.  



  1. Choi Mina says:

    I agree. I try to make the plan as simple as possible – realistic. Even the sales process should not be complicated to easily be executed and followed.

  2. M Laughland says:

    In order to get execution moving, the plan needs to list the title of who is accountable for each part of the plan. Most plans do not do this. But hold someone’s feet to the fire (list the responsible person for each goal, objective, etc. and they will get moving on the plan.
    If a plan contains every scenario, then it is a risk analysis – not a strategic plan. The strategic plan contains the conclusions of an in-depth analysis of how to successfully reach current and new customers.

  3. Edward Pratesi says:

    I have a disagreement with the premise of the piece, strategy is critical to the success of every organization, unless you believe that luck is a strategy.

    The development of strategy, which is very dependent on the size of an organization, is either what is described in some of the above statements or developed on an “in the moment” strategy sessions which consider market, resources and team.

    If strategy development is as painful as indicated in the above then perhaps a market does not exist or there is not a level of consensus that contributes to a team going forward.

  4. Anne C. Graham says:

    Well said! I use a lot of simple facilitation techniques vs the usual prep of having the company prepare decks and decks of powerpoints. Then, we end up with a 1 page plan with no more than 7 key objectives, distributed amongst the senior team. The stoplight system makes monthly or quarterly reporting out very quick, simple, and compelling so that everyone is clear on what needs to be done, how they fit and contribute, why it matters, and what the status is. Voila! Execution happens.

  5. Tem Padla says:

    Balance is still key. I agree with the points raised here. But I also believe that the more time and attention focused in planning, the fewer the problems during execution.

  6. Fernando Silva says:

    Are we talking about an art or a science, or a little of both. Being a Viet Nam Vet, I grew to appreciate planning and how execution would fill the void not taken into consideration in the plan but still there was a plan therefore, before you pull the trigger make sure you have a full clip!

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