PERSONAL STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION FRAMEWORK
Strategy implementation framework is a program of how the strategy will be implemented including resources, timeframes, people and progress monitoring system. It is the only implementation that can move the strategic plan from where it might sit in the shelf and turn it into actions that can realize the objectives. Without an effective implementation plan, nothing will happen despite the existence of a robust strategic plan. A good strategy normally addresses the what and why of the plan while an implementation plan addresses who, where, how and when. If these questions are not properly tackled, the strategy is bound to fail. Strategic planning is about change. Change is very unsettling to many people and needs to be managed well. If not well-managed, people may become lukewarm to the idea, resist or even fight it outright. To get it right for yourself, you should engage in the following steps:
- Create discontent with the current state of affairs. If you are happy with the way things are going, you will resist and oppose change. The best way is to find ways of getting yourself and everyone involved in this proposed change to see why change is necessary, what they risk by not changing and what they will gain by changing. As change is underway, this should be managed by transparent sharing of relevant information.
- Deliberate possible changes and attractive future positions with key stakeholders like your spouse. You must all start quickly to see that by staying where you are you may not achieve much in life. More importantly, you need to see that there are possible positive directions that you can take control of and that it is in your benefit to do so now rather than later.
- Craft a logical strategy. Create a coherent strategy that is based on specific goals that need to be targeted and achieved and has superior methods that will be used to achieve the goals. Create small tasks in a sequential manner that have to be implemented today, tomorrow, next week, next month and so on. Identify resources (money, facilities, time and energy) that will be needed and where they will come from. Have a clear and workable implementation framework and monitoring and evaluation system. You can if you like to put in place performance appraisal and reward system to reward stakeholders with say a dinner out whenever there is a success.
- Involve some pair of eyes and hands, particularly family members and friends in knowing about the plan and in implementation. A pair of eyes looking at something is better than one pair.
- Come up with a written strategic plan and start implementing it.
Some of the common reasons why strategy implementations fail include:
- Lack of buy-in: If people who are expected to support your strategy do not buy into the plan, they will feel they have no stake in it and will ignore or frustrate it. Buy-in is usually secured by involving everyone at the development stages of the strategy.
- Insufficient clarity and communication: If people involved do not understand the strategy and their role in it, their reception and implementation of the strategy will be half-hearted. This problem is usually cured by constant sharing and communication of the strategy crafting at all stages.
- The strategy is seen as meaningless: If the strategy is viewed as being senseless, its implementation is doomed to fail. The strategy must therefore be and be seen to be capable of delivering superior desired goals if properly implemented. It must be believable.
- Overwhelming: If the strategy has too many goals and actions, it can be overwhelming and the plan may be treated as not capable of implementation. To avoid this, tough choices should be made at the development stage to remove non-critical goals and actions.
- No implementation plan: If the implementation is not discussed at strategy planning sessions, the strategy document may be treated as an end in itself. Implementation of the strategic plan should be discussed and agreed upon as part and parcel of the strategy.
- Strategy progress is reviewed only annually: Strategy implementation is a living process and implementation should have formal structures for reviewing progress such as monthly or quarterly meetings where performance is measured and tracked and formal reports that show meaningful forward momentum are presented and discussed.
- Lack of accountability: Lack of responsibility or accountability for the plan may derail plans. You are the one responsible for accomplishing your plan
- Strategy delinked from budget and commitment: Strategy must be linked to the budget so that the costs of all key actions that have to be implemented are properly identified and provided for in the budget. Any goals that have no allocation of resources in terms of time, money, personal energy and commitment, will never be implemented.
A personal strategic or business plan can be implemented using a table like the one below:
Table 1: Strategy implementation framework
|Actions||Performance Measures|| |
Complete Strategic Plan Document
As strategic planning is a process, the process is complete once you have done and documented the following:
- i) Carried out appropriate research to obtain the necessary information.
- ii) Thought about and brainstormed all the ideas that you have gained from the research, SWOT analysis and any other means about what/how to start or change to improve your business.
- iii) Have applied the information to identify strategic issues or problems that need to be dealt with to start or improve your business.
- iv) Have used all the useful ideas to develop a mission, vision, and values. You have also applied the data to develop objectives or goals that you can aim to achieve to make progress. And have also crafted strategies (smart methods/moves) that you can use to achieve those goals and actions (steps) that you need to implement (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly etc) to achieve the goals and have put all these into an implementation framework like a matrix. Do not be baffled by goals, strategies and actions. These can be simple reasonable and actionable statements rolled into one or more statements that simply state what needs to be done, how it is to be done and when to be done. Goals, strategies and actions need not be distinctly separate unless you can easily and do so. They only need to be smart, transformative and actionable statements.
- v) For a business, you will need to define your product, your customers (market), competition, marketing plans, sales plans, delivery plans, internal processes and systems needed, resource requirements and financial forecasts like a budget.
- vi) However beautifully written, a strategic plan will not deliver unless deliberate steps are taken daily to implement the stated actions. It is actions and actions that deliver the strategic plan and not the beauty of the plan.
After all the above, a complete strategic plan should be expressed as a business plan containing an executive summary, mission, vision, values, goals, strategies, critical success factors, SWOT analysis, start-up resources, marketing/selling strategies, management arrangements, a financial plan that includes projected financial statements, company profile, implementation plan (that includes actions, responsible parties, performance measures, outcomes and timelines) and appendix, all as explained in the business plan section of this write-up.
Refreshing the Strategy
The results of strategy implementation should be evaluated regularly to ensure that things are still on track. This requires assessing the results of each strategy regularly (annually or quarterly) to determine how the strategy has been implemented and whether it has produced desired results or needs replacement by a new strategy to meet changed circumstances, new technology, new competitors, new economic environment, new desires or new social, financial or political environment. Goals are not static. They should change as circumstances change, change your mind owing to new information or if they cannot, for some reason, be achieved as planned. You need to periodically re-assess your goals to see if they are still relevant or if you still need them. Your universe should constantly be kept in review and new goals and strategies should accordingly be set to take advantage of existing and potential opportunities and to counter emerging weaknesses and threats. Strategic planning is an ongoing process and should be refreshed as often as is warranted. However, a strategy can also be prepared covering three years and implemented over that period with only minimal changes during the period after which a fresh strategic plan covering the next three years is prepared, unless of course there are drastic changes that call for an overhaul of the strategy before the end of the three years. Another way is to refresh the three-year strategic plan yearly whereby as goals, strategies and actions of one year are completed, goals, strategies and actions of the remaining two years are critically reviewed and another future one year is also added in a rolling fashion so that the strategic plan is always covering three years ahead at a time.
As the strategy is being reviewed, it is good to ask questions such as am I doing everything that I am supposed to do?, do I need to start doing something that I am not currently doing or do I need to change anything?, do I need to acquire more knowledge, and if so in what areas?, and above all, how am I going to maintain the motivation to keep moving on?.