Have you ever heard the saying “How do you eat an elephant?” Well, the answer is “One bite at a time!”. The same goes for turning your business strategy into a reality. Some of the most common questions I am asked by organisations whilst undertaking the strategy and business planning cycle are:
1. How do we develop a realistic strategy that we can deliver on?
2. How can we get our staff to understand the big picture?
3. How can we make sure that our business plan captures our key priorities?
Having been faced with these questions from our clients over the last 15 years as well as questioning myself during our own business and strategic planning, there are a number of lessons I’ve learnt.
Linkages are important. Strategy, business planning and people’s individual roles need to be linked. People want to understand how their role contributes to the big picture, so make sure it does! Less is always more. Keep your plans small, simple, relevant and specific. Ensure you have focus on what’s important. Leaders need to provide direction of what we are trying to achieve and need to make sure that the levels of engagement with staff are balanced. Remember that your leaders need to explain the why as well as the what! Things don’t always go to plan. You need to be adaptable and responsive to change. How are you going to hold yourself and others accountable to achieving your plans? Don’t underestimate the importance and benefits of tracking your progress.
So to actually make all this happen, break your plans into bite sized pieces. Most of the time organisations don’t get the results that theya re looking to achieve is because 12 months for a business plan and 3 – 5 years for a strategy is too long and far away for people to see. It’s too easy for people to fall into the trap that it will “probably be someone else’s problem”.
If your strategy is broken into 90 day plans, your accountability, focus and reporting all aligns to quarterly progress meetings. As the accountability is clearer, your staff will become more engaged around the short term view, all of which is contributing to your long term plan. And isn’t that why you created a strategy in the first place? To turn it into a reality?