Following my last post, I promised I’d talk ‘nitty gritty’ and the fun and games of implementation. It can be the one thing we gloss over or simply avoid but, make no mistake, having a clear implementation plan is an absolute must in delivering strategic objectives.
So, what am I on about?Why is it important to look at implementation as a separate topic to strategy in and of itself? Because it’s often the one thing we tend to steer away from [it's true!] and can derail strategic planning objectives if it’s not allocated and organised properly.
In the context of implementation, consideration has to be given to the resources, individuals and timing allocated to objectives – as well as balancing the operational demands of the business.
A line in the sand: Day-to-day versus strategicToo often, the day-to-day can erode or frustrate strategic objectives while we attempt to juggle client, personnel and financial demands. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to stressors – create your implementation plan and ensure you also allocate time to appraise and evaluate it.
So… When we’ve finally wound our heads around the big vision and fully understood where it is we really want to be, we’ve got to look to the what, how, who and when of our implementation plan.
An implementation can be likened to a recipe; you’ve got to have the right ingredients, timing, direction and application to deliver the finished product [e.g. the plans' objectives]. As pointed to already, balance of the operational versus strategic, is hugely important and should not be underestimated.
Think backwardsWhat does this translate into for you, as Owners, CEOs, or whatever you refer to yourself as? Simply, a clear layout of the route your specific strategic objectives will need to travel in order to come to fruition. Sometimes it helps to think about your strategic objective in a reverse-engineered way – e.g. if this is what we’re going to achieve, working backwards, how might be do it? Bear in mind that there may be a little trial-and-error involved…
Step-by-stepTake, for example, the area of new market exploration – this is often an objective of a growing SME. How do you feel you might approach this? A wise stance would be to:
- Identify the specific market[s] we feel are most suitable – or the “what”;
- Understand the possible route to defining the markets [e.g. research, visits, meetings, stakeholder contact and so on] – the “how”;
- Decide on who the key people are – internally and externally – and their role in the objective, how they will be informed / instructed;
- … most importantly, the element of time is critical in strategic plan implementation, we’re all fully versed in the notion of SMART objectives, right? Well, without timing in implementation, we’re not likely to realise any real outcomes.
To recap…Does this make sense? What - are we looking to achieve here? How – do we make it happen [taking a wide-angled approach, and ensuring several options are explored!]? Who - are the right people [taking into consideration skill, ability, personality, knowledge] to take on this piece of work? When should this objective be achieved by? Time is of the essence and should reflect a realistic, achievable deadline – whilst also ensuring that the time allocated to the objective will facilitate the appropriate outcome.
The vital ingredient: Review!
Another key consideration in implementation? REVIEW. Yup, I’m a staunch advocate of “Plan, Do, Review”, so make sure you do just that. Remember, implementation of any plan is not worth a jot if you can’t review its success.