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Strategy Spotlight: 9 Steps to Take You From Strategic Plan to Implementation

Creating an Execution/Implementation Culture is all about getting things done through people. To do that, you need to get your senior team on the same page in their thinking about management vs. leadership and how it relates to empowering people to get things done.

One of the ways to do this is to work through the process from strategic planning to tactical implementation. As part of your planning process, consider these nine key items to get your senior management team rowing in the same direction.

1. Define Strategy

If you have strategic items that the senior team must deliver, review them. Get them down to 3 to 5 strategic agenda items and into words that can be remembered by you and your people.

2. Set Initiatives

Start the process of defining your key initiatives that relate to the strategic agenda items. Depending on the size of the organization, these may be referred to as enterprise or program items. No matter which term you use, create strategic initiatives that serve as umbrellas for actual project work.

3. Establish Elements

Establish the big chunks of work that must be done. Work statements should always start with a verb and be action-charged. These are the key elements and are referred to as statements of work. They are not tasks. You should only have 3 to 5 key elements at the end of this step.

4. Create Measurable Outcomes

To create measurable outcomes, use the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) or CAR (challenge, action, result expected) models. When writing measurable outcome statements, make sure they are no more than three sentences. The longer and more detailed the information the greater chance you will lose your key stakeholders.

Related Article: 7 Steps to Kick-Start Your Strategic Planning Process

5. Enable Champions

Every initiative should have a champion. Champions are leaders who use vision and influence to get things done through people. A Champion is not the same as being a manager. Managers are operational and get things done through authority. It is important that Champion be empowered to work across the organization and functional lines to lead and support the strategic initiatives, required outcomes and work elements to ensure success.

6. Agree on Timelines

All initiatives should have timelines. There should be an overall timeline for each strategic initiative and separate timelines for work elements. Discuss and agree upon timelines. Not everything has to happen at once.

7. Assign Leaders

Work gets done by leveraging resources. In this case, the resources are defined as people. At this level, the Initiative Champion seeks Project Leaders within the functional business areas to rise and take responsibility for organizing people to get the chunks of work completed. The project leaders must break down the chunks of work, gathering additional resources and creating micro-timelines to meet key milestones.

8. Forecast Costs

The Initiative Champions working with Operational Managers and Project Leaders should work together to define the true costs associated with the strategic initiatives and the associated work. Some initiatives will be operational, and others will be clear projects.

9. Establish Alignment

There should always be an alignment stream associated with your strategic initiatives. The alignment stream should include objectives for creating a common language for communications, establishing awareness and activation abilities, and building collaboration skills.

Not everything happens at once. The senior team will make mistakes. They may become overwhelmed with what needs to be done. Maybe timelines aren’t fully discussed and agreed upon. An execution culture is cross-functional and self-directed. It’s not a clear-cut process. People need a path to follow. As the senior team, give them one.

Question: In what way are you engaging others in your strategic and tactical planning efforts to ensure you achieve successful implementation?

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