Why is Your Strategic Plan on the Shelf?

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." Sun Tzu-The Art of War.

As we begin facilitating the process of strategic planning, we often ask leaders of an organization to submit to a brief activity-based exercise that is loaded with metaphorical meaning. We ask them to write their name with their non-preferred hand. We then ask them to share what that experience was like, how it felt. Of course, we get words like, "uncomfortable, awkward, unnatural, stressful, and difficult". They all get a chuckle or two out of the clumsy and unpolished appearance of their writing.

We then ask them to now write their name with their normal or preferred hand and describe the experience by contrasting it with their name written with their non-preferred hand. They usually feel relief to get back to "normal" and they describe how easy it is to write without focusing on mechanics and thinking about every little movement of the pen. Unless we are ambidextrous, we unconsciously choose our preferred hand as it is normal, natural, and we unthinkingly expect that it will preform.

Most leaders are not ambidextrous... And, like it is with handedness, so it is with a leader's behaviors and practices within an organization.

It is a reality, that the majority of senior leadership teams find that taking the time, energy, and resources required to identify, document, and execute a fully-developed strategic plan, feels like writing with their non-preferred hand. They come to avoid it like a plague. Most leaders, in small to medium size organizations, by practical necessity, keep the business moving forward by focus on short-term plans. Most leaders prefer to come up with high-level strategies, and don't want to get bogged down or wrapped around the axle with details of executing a plan or its tactics.

It seems to us that leaders are pretty good at envisioning what their organization can become. Most leaders dream about brighter days ahead with satisfying accomplishments and tangible successes.

However, thinking five years down the road in incremental detailed steps is another matter and that is why many strategic plans end up on the shelf and gathering dust.

By experience and observation, we see that a serious approach to strategic planning involves an outside facilitator.

The brief video below gives some insight into how we go about helping our clients build and execute on a strategic plan.

A Plan that Matters, Gets Used, and Changes your Organization.

An on-going fully executed strategic plan aligns and links people, departments, units, and teams throughout the organization. It contains a leader committed to the planning process 'Keeper of the Flame', and a project manager over execution...the 'Enforcer'.

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What is Strategy?

Michael Porter..."broad formula for how a business is going to compete, what its goals should be, and what policies will be needed to carry out those goals".

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Strategy-Keep it Simple

One of the barriers to clear and repeated communication, coordination and implementation of strategy is complexity.

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Strategy-Secret to Success

Listen to your customers,
Listen to your employees,
Do what they tell you?

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Balance Attention to Strategy and Execution

What actually provides competitive success and what is difficult to copy is not so much knowing what to do, deciding on the "right strategy", but instead having the ability to do it.

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A 3-Step Model-Balancing Strategy and Execution

Strategy is important. Execution is important. Having the wisdom to know the difference, to learn how to achieve them, and achieve them well is equally important.

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You're Ready-Where is Your Team?

Christopher Columbus first sold his love of the Sea, before he asked crew members to join him on his mission, to discover a New World. Sharing your passion and mission as well as knowing who and when to use your team is critical to having an engaged, committed, satisfied, and loyal high performing team.

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