What Every Executive Should Know About Strategic Planning Part 11
In last week’s article, and in the prior week’s edition, we covered questions related to planning effectiveness. In the continuation of analysis this week, we will cover others. How would you answer the following?
5. Are any of your plan goals not related directly to measurable outcomes?
If you answered “yes”, then why is that the case? Plan goals should really be thought of in terms of outcomes that will mean something tangible to your customers and the markets your organization serves. Following that thought, outcomes can and should always be measured and managed vertically and laterally through the layers of the organizational units responsible for taking action related to initiatives supporting plan goals. Good plan execution boils down to accountability. The execution of strategic plans in large organizations requires a complex interoperability between divisions, departments and teams across the enterprise.
6. Do all employees within the company know your plan goals and can they explain how they are expected to contribute to the achievement of the goals?
The answer should be “yes”. Strategic and operational plans break down when they fail to consider those responsible for executing the plans. There are two factors to consider related to this point. The first is the need for plans to be well constructed so as to offer the needed details of the underlying layers of supporting initiatives. Detailed plan components should offer great clarity related to who, what, when, where and why. Of equal importance to the completeness and thoroughness of the plan, is the communication aspect.
7. Have you communicated with key business partners and suppliers of the organization about the plan goals that might affect them and where they could assist in the achievement of one or more plan goals?
Of course, the right answer here is “yes”. Always enlist the help of business relationships within the value chain that in some way support the products and services that are supplied by your organization. An external communications plan is important to the successful execution of plan goals and should contain messaging tailored to help suppliers understand why they are being asked for price reductions or quantity discounts not currently part of your normal purchasing arrangements. By communicating openly about your organization’s goals and the role your external business relationships play in your success towards achieving those goals, cooperation can be gained and closer…more rewarding business relations established.
8. Is there any room for misinterpretation of the intent or desired outcome for any plan goals?
If you answered “yes”, the plan goals should be revisited to correct for vagueness. Ambiguous plan goals lead to variability of interpretation and misfires in execution. Not saying what we want clearly leads to misinterpretation and in planning efforts that in turn translates into risk that the actual achievement of the desired strategic outcomes may fail. Most planning processes introduce variability into the plan from the very beginning – at the time plan goals are defined. If there is room for interpretation in your plan goals, you have this issue.
9. Do any job descriptions for employees or officers of the company fail to correlate to defined plan goals?
If you answered “yes” to this question, you have a big opportunity area with this one. A planning approach should be accountability and performance driven. This may seem intuitively obvious, but in order to realize an organizational desired outcome, you must have a plan that is good and reasonable, yes, but you must also have the people to carry it out and they must have incentive and understanding to execute to that plan. Therefore, job descriptions and accountabilities must be in alignment with plan goals. Failure to do so jeopardizes the effectiveness of strategic and operational plans. This is a common issue that must be addressed, even in very mature organizations.
Join us again next week to continue the discussion.