With next year just waiting to be conquered, we hope your strategic planning efforts have been fruitful and your team is ready to achieve something great in the new year. But, with a fresh plan that’s ready for implementation, how do you know if your plan is poised to deliver the results you’re setting out to achieve?
Going beyond the basic elements of a plan, we’ve developed a set of seven checklist items you should knock off to know your plan will help your organization go the distance in the new year. Before your final implementation, consider making sure your plan meets the following seven criteria:
- Don’t over build your plan. One of the biggest drivers of failed adoption is because teams take on too much or get too detailed. Great plans are specific and detailed but find the balance in being reasonable in the number of things the team can actually achieve. Another great tip is to ensure no single team or individual is overloaded.
- Strategic plans create the future, they don’t define business as usual. The difference between a strategic plan and an operational plan is a strategic plan defines your desired future state and the roadmap to get there. An operational plan will ensure your business as usual bases are covered. Eliminate the business as usual from your plan, except for efficiency and effectiveness performance measures.
- Action is clear. Strategic plans by nature need to be clear and action oriented. Your plan needs to articulate who is doing what by when while clearly stating what successful completion looks like.
- Key performance measures are critical. KPIs measure the success of your plan and objectively tell if you are delivering the results you need to achieve. We always recommend three to five KPIs that help define the success of your plan. You can learn more about the anatomy of a good KPI here.
- Balance measuring outcomes and leading indicators. A common trap many organizations fall into is simply monitoring outcomes of their plan, like revenue or market growth. But, it’s important to also have a set of leading indicators that serve as early warning buoys of your organization’s performance, like the number of leads you have in your funnel or your website traffic.
- Validate the underlying approach to implementing the plan. If the approach is wrong, the plan will fail. By approach, we mean the method by which a goal or initiatives are being implemented, be that internally, outsourced, or with a partner. For internal implementation, does your team have the capabilities, capacity, and budget to really achieve the initiative?
- Plans should change, so formally establish your review and adaptation schedule. Strategy reviews are the heartbeat of the strategic management process. Without a cadence and set schedule to review your plan, it’s easy for it to sit on the shelf. Plus, a review and adaptation schedule give your organization the change to modify or shift course when needed to achieve your long-term vision of success. See our video about running great strategy reviews here.
These seven steps may seem obvious or trivial, and that’s ok. But, each item on this list has a distinct impact on the success of your strategic plan and should be thoughtfully considered as you roll out your yearly plan. You’ve spent the time and effort to develop a thoughtful plan, so just take the extra minute to make sure everything is in place to ensure its successful implementation and execution.