The Key to Strategic Planning is Execution Planning

  “(Strategy) execution is the great unaddressed issue in the business world today. Its absence is the single biggest obstacle to success and the cause of most of the disappointments that are mistakenly attributed to other causes.” ― Ram Charan, author of What the CEO Wants You to Know and Boards that Work.


I am ramping up for my session next week at the Canadian Professional Accountant’s Leadership Conference called “From Strategy to Execution”.   Most of us only think about the first part of the equation… Strategic Planning, but the real issue out there is actually the execution part – making it all happen. This is the great unaddressed and ignored wasteland of strategic planning.


Without a well thought out plan to EXECUTE the strategy, the strategy could very well die on the vine.


strategy2Strategy Execution bridges the gap between brilliant strategies and superior performance. Strategy Execution has become a fast-growing bleep on the radar screens of top executives. Simply appearing on that radar is not enough to make it happen. Each company, large or small, needs to master crucial strategy execution skills.  These skills need to be either a part of the strategic planning process or a completely separate planning process within the organizational framework.  Either way, it needs to be there.


The biggest issue?  Today’s leaders often do not see the execution of the plan as part of their jobs.  This important piece is left (delegated) to others.  Leadership needs to give the execution plan as much attention as the strategic plan but they don’t.


There are many models out there that promote a step-by-step process to sound execution plans. However, I think it is important to understand that strategic plans will be managed and executed differently depending on the environment, market, timing and more. Every organization will have its strengths and weaknesses.  My friend Alan Kennedy, in his book by the same name, calls this ‘The Alpha Strategies’; a dominant part of the business that will have to play a more important role in each different execution plan.


But there are core elements that must be present in any sound execution plan.  I interviewed Rob MacLellan last week.  Rob is a past executive with the TD Bank and a current Chair of Wind Mobile and Yellow Pages.   He offers up his core elements:


1. Over communicate


2. Manage the team – setting the goals of the individuals as #2 and the goals of the organization as #


3. Find things to measure – allowing us to celebrate the victories


Over the coming weeks I will peel away the layers of Strategy Execution to see if we can learn from some of the models out there and adapt them to our own situations.


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