I want to give you some simple but concrete steps you can follow to increase the chances of successful strategy implementation. These rules apply to strategic plans, one-off plans, projects or major company-changing plans.
Step 1: Understand and agree on exactly what you want to achieve.
Always make sure to very clearly define the end goal of what you want to achieve. What does the idea mean? What are the outcomes that you want from it as a team? Why is it even important to your business? Test your idea and ask everyone to indicate areas of uncertainty. See whether everyone is clear on what needs to be accomplished. Write it down, take pictures of your whiteboard scribbles. Keep it and bring people back to it.
Step 2: Figure It Out or Implement – you have to choose.
If those tasked with implementation leave meetings and still have to go figure out the details of what they need to accomplish, you just increased their workload by a magnitude of 10. You may think that your team can immediately go into execution mode.
But in their minds, unless the road map is clearly articulated, they go into ‘figuring this out’ mode.
Figure it out or implement immediately. These are two different things. While they overlap, they require completely different approaches and personality attributes. You cannot ask someone who is strong on implementation to also design an end result that they have never seen before. This may paralyze them and the job won’t get done. They will sit there, spin wheels, be paralyzed and not get it done because they cannot fully see the road map, or desired end results. Cut this frustration out by being more clear right at the beginning.
Step 3: Build the first clear action steps.
Once the end result is clear, decide on the first 3 to 5 concrete action steps. Call them momentum steps if you want, but make these concrete, set timelines and allocate them to specific individuals. This will help the people tasked with implementation to overcome that initial inertia and get the ball rolling. Build enough of these momentum steps to ensure that when they’re done, everyone feels like they are on the go, have momentum, and can carry on with the rest of the steps.
Step 4: Check in on initial progress without focusing on the whole goal.
Set a very short, immediate timeline for checking in on the progress of those first 3 to 5 action steps. The sole purpose of this is to ensure that implementation has started, and that it has momentum.
There are too many good but confusing plans floating around in companies today. It is time for change, and to implement plans more quickly. In my line of work, I preach traction and closure. In many cases closure can be far off. But traction, especially right out the gate, is critical. Traction will build momentum, maintain momentum, and motivate your team to get to the point of closure. And it will inevitably determine how successful the overall implementation of the plan will be.
Are you ready to build a future-ready company?
Discover what strategic innovation means for your business by downloading my FREE Strategic Innovation Guide