There is a buzz surrounding the value of strategic plans, mostly set off by a Wall Street Journal article that ran this month. While the article raised valid concerns, it did so from an archaic point of view in our opinion. It was all about how strategic plans are too rigid to be useful in a tumultuous economy. We find that it is mostly not the plan that is unable to flex with the needs of any given organization, it is the strategy execution process that fails.
Leadership’s role is to go beyond task delegation and get out of the habit of seeing results as an after-the-fact element of any given objective. Before any task gets delegated, leaders need to recognize the culture in which the company operates as a factor. If the task were a boat, what kind of cultural currents would it need to navigate through in order to get from the point of origin to the destination port?
Analogies aside, the point is that leaders need to recognize and correct for the conditions that typically stray tasks off course. Regular progress reports geared toward the attaining results can give leaders the insight they need to make these corrections as well. If the corrections are vexing, then you look at the source of the tasks, the larger objective, and assess if the expectations of the objective are not in line with the conditions an organization might find itself facing, like extreme economic fluctuations.
It is within this function of effective strategy execution that a plan stays relevant and responsive to the storms that will undoubtedly arise with the passage of time. Strategic plan implementation is not complete without this process defined.