Strategic Planning: Executing the Strategic Plan

By Nathan Denny and Scott Axelrod

Strategic Planning: Executing the Strategic PlanStrategic Planning Session Recap: How can business leaders better tackle planning complexities like expansion, succession, and engaging team members to take more active roles? That was the topic of this Private Advisory Board session.


How can I help team members better understand their roles — that their work in individual programs helps advance the organization’s strategic planning goals?

Why It’s Important

In the past, objectives have not been consistently met, a failure attributed to the lack of connection between the organization as a whole and team members including the board, the staff, and parent representatives.

Options Under Consideration

  • Requiring monthly or bi-monthly committee updates at board of directors meetings.
  • Tying outcomes to performance reviews.

Clarifying Questions

  • Was your team involved in the creation of the strategic plan?
  • How long has the current plan been in place?
  • What does success look like? What impact are you looking to create?
  • What are your organization’s fundamental goals?
  • Is a reason why team members aren’t engaging at the strategic level because they’re swamped with work within their own program(s)?
  • What incentives do employees have to participate in these meetings?

Re-Stated Issue

How do I create an organization people want to participate in?

Suggestions (Solutions)

  • Simplify your goals, focusing on people and not just the organization.
  • Have your team focus on the here and now — not on what might or might not come.
  • When people make advances in the strategic plan, recognize and celebrate those contributions.
  • Does your team have passion for the mission? If not, you’ve identified a new issue.

Sources Referenced

Action Plan

This leader has committed to integrating the session’s suggestions into personal goals.


How do I lead efforts to develop an integrated expansion plan that includes operations, marketing and finance?

Why It’s Important

As this single-location business prepares for expansion, operations, marketing, and finance need to be fine-tuned and tied to a project management timeline that defines goals, processes, and dates.

To help understand how to create such a plan, this executive asked Vistage peers for insight into practical methods for capturing a big-picture vision and breaking it down into practical, manageable projects.

Clarifying questions:

  • What are your barriers to efficiency?
  • Do you have the team in place to pull this off — or is that phase II?
  • Who is currently involved in the operational, marketing, and financial planning?
  • Have you found other concepts similar to what you’re trying to achieve that you could model your efforts on?

Re-Stated Issue:

How do I position myself for the success of the current expansion, and into the future?

Suggestions (Solutions)

  • Link your position to achievements: As you grow, you will need to give things up. Prepare, so you don’t get in your own way.
  • Be sure that the plan you create can be adhered to once it’s developed.
  • As the business expands, make sure you’re in the position you want. Do you want to be a player, or a coach?

Action Plan

This leader’s action plan, based on this peer session: (1) Establish a procedure and present to online coach; and (2) once that procedure is in place, implement the plan.


Have I identified the right successor for my business?

Why It’s Important

This leader doesn’t want to continue working at the current pace over the long term. (This “business operates with or without me in five years.”) Is more staff needed to handle the workload — or more efficient staff?

The resources that could be used to hire staff are currently subsidizing the planned successor. This successor is well-liked and a hard worker who’s been with the company for five years, but with results at 30 to 50 percent of the desired level. (It’s acknowledged, however, that, those past five years were a tough climate for the industry, which is now improving.)

Options Under Consideration

  • Put potential successor on results-based timeline, potentially releasing the individual if performance targets are not met
  • Accept that successor is not a superstar in the current role, but does possess many good qualities (including loyalty).

Clarifying Questions:

  • What positions were held by the successor prior to the current job?
  • Has it been assessed if this successor is interested in being the next leader?
  • Does the potential successor know that expectations are not being met?
  • Are you trying to find a person to replace you, or a person to take the business?

Re-stated Issue

Have I identified the right succession mode?

Suggestions (Solutions)

  • Hire an administrator AND a sales professional to replace yourself.
  • Test drive: Take a furlough and give this successor an opportunity to excel in your absence.
  • Sit down with this potential successor and ask, “If I’m hit by a truck tomorrow, what would you do? How do you see yourself and this agency if that happens?”
  • Have the successor propose a plan and show what would be done if you were removed from the picture.

Action Plan

This leader has committed to re-examining the succession model, specifically, considering two roles to fill the leadership position (business manager as well as sales leader). In addition, this leader vows to communicate better, and ask more questions of this potential successor to get a better idea of expectations and potential performance issues.
Session date: May 8, 2012
Originally published: May 18, 2012

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