Both Strategy Formulation And Strategy Implementation Are Aspects Of Strategic Planning With Implementation in Mind

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Strategic Planning With Implementation in Mind

Plans come in all shapes and sizes, but the types of plans I have in mind are those whose effective implementation is critical to the continued well-being of the organization. The plan may be a marketing plan that includes the development of new markets and products; it may be a restructuring to strengthen flexibility and customer focus or the adoption of a concept such as lean thinking. It may be that all of these, together, form matters of business strategy. The similarities are that the successful implementation of this plan involves many more people than were involved in the formulation of the plan and the cost of failure to implement is high.

The three main reasons for poor plan implementation are:

  1. Planning and implementation are seen as two completely different activities when the truth is that the seeds of success or failure are sown when planners sit down to plan.
  2. Planners spend a disproportionate amount of time making decisions What they will do rather than divide their time equally between that and planning How they will do it.
  3. Very few people are involved in the “how” process – evaluating the feasibility of the plan and its impact on all resources of the organization.

These are further divided into the following 13 barriers to good planning:

Planning Obstacle No.1 – “The plan did not take into account the new environment we are operating in”.

If the plan ignores the present or fails to anticipate the future environment in which the organization will operate, it will fail from the start.

Planning Impediment No.2 – “The logic behind the plan was not put into a written document”

It is said that 70% of people will change, given a good enough reason to do so. Since almost by definition these days plans involve change, the rationale behind the proposed change must be explained and justified. It is not enough to say “this is what we are going to do”. Administrators should explain the debate that led to the proposed action.

Planning Obstacle No.3 – “There wasn’t an overall goal for everyone to relate to”

My company conducts Customer Satisfaction Surveys and one of the main results is the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI). The large public company sector recorded a satisfactory average CSI but it masked a significant problem – inconsistency. The 24% of customers who gave the seller a very high rating were affected by the 27% of customers who were dissatisfied with their performance. The provider decided to set an overall goal for a specific CSI to replace the contribution limit they had previously used. Although staff found the new performance measure much easier to relate to than the old one, it would have been even better if the revised goal had been to eliminate any customer ratings below the agreed upon number within the agreed time period.

Planning Impediment No.4 – “The plan was just a program of activities – there were no clear outcomes to target”

If you’ve been trying to lose weight, you might decide to exercise more, drink less alcohol and eat more green vegetables. These are jobs. I’m sure your campaign will be more successful if you set achievable milestones at the end of 12 months and monthly targets in between. The company’s plans are different.

Planning Barrier No.5 – “Those responsible for the implementation of the plan were not sufficiently involved in the planning stage”

There is an old saying, the more people plan a battle, the less people actually try to fight it. This strategy not only initiates the transfer of ownership from “planners” to “developers” but also results in better quality planning.

Planning Impediment No. 6 – “Planners fail to connect the plan with the current conditions facing the organization”

Very few planners start with the luxury of a clean sheet of paper. Hence any plan must address the present and the future. Womack and Jones in their book “Lean Thinking” tell the story of a company that decided to adopt the concept of “Just-in-Time” – to reduce the range and size of the production batch. Unfortunately for them, they did not make fundamental changes in their production process which remained as flexible as before. Manufacturing costs and transportation costs have increased due to increased machine downtime and the need to order air freight to meet delivery times.

These six constraints are linked to the first part of any strategy which is deciding “what to do”. The next step is to think about the impact of the 1st level strategy on all the work that the organization does.

Planning Impediment No.7 – “Implications of planning have not been sufficiently worked out by planners”

For example, what if the plan calls for the production of six new products per year? Such focus has implications for Development, Production, Marketing, Sales, Distribution, Supply, HR and Finance. To reduce this problem, you should involve people with deep knowledge of these activities in the planning stage.

Planning Barrier No.8 – “Insufficient time spent on planning before moving to implementation”

You would think that with all their experience, Boeing could design and bring into service a new airplane on time. This was certainly not the case with the 787 “Dreamliner”. It was four years late at work due to the problems found not only in the production of many components using new technology but in some cases with the design of export. As one senior executive of Boeing admitted – “… we connect the global supply chain without thinking about the specific results”.

Once the “how are we going to do it” issue has been well thought out, the next step is to look at the human and financial implications. These are the two main functions of Consent. Without people and money, no plan can be implemented.

Armed with the knowledge of “what we want to do” and “this is how we are going to do it”, the next set of questions to ask is whether the organization has the right number of skilled workers in the right places to successfully implement the plan.

Planning Obstacle No.9 – “Implementation of the plan requires changes in the current organizational structure that management was not prepared to make”

Furthermore, is the organizational structure ready to implement the planned changes? Under the leadership of Lou Gerstner IBM underwent a major organizational change in the 1990s as it moved from a technology-driven hardware company to a market-driven services company. The “old guard” was against such a change in the situation and the reforms would not have succeeded, if Gerstner had not redistributed the “levers of power”.

Planning Constraint No.10 – “Planners reduce implementation costs”

By this stage of the planning process, you will have built the shopping list necessary to bring your plan into reality. New infrastructure, new equipment, new IT systems… not to mention new people in new roles. If you can’t implement the plan as it is, then maybe you can delay the investment or extend the implementation time – or maybe you need to reduce the scope of the plan so that it is on your way to implement it. It’s much better to realize now that you can’t afford the cost of implementing the plan than to find out six months down the road.

Planning Obstacle No.11 – “There were no clear subsidiary objectives”

It was the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu who said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Similarly, the achievement of a goal will depend on a large number of subsidiary goals and strategies to achieve them. It is very important that these goals relate to “how we are going to do it” rather than “what we want to do”. In fact, we plan from the top up but execute from the bottom up.

Each plan should be concluded with the first Action plan. “First” is emphasized because the work plan is a circular work. As some actions are completed, others take their place. The last two constraints relate to the transition phase where the focus on strategic planning gives way to one on implementation.

Planning Barrier No. 12 – “There was no Action Plan setting out the purpose of each action, who will be responsible for it and the date for its completion”

There is one action that is often overlooked and that is the thorough communication of the plan to everyone who will play a role in its implementation. If you want to engage your employees – and who doesn’t – you need to explain where the organization is now, where it’s going. and why and each person’s role in getting there.

Planning Constraint No. 13 – “Management looked at the time required for implementation – we didn’t have enough hours in the day to complete the actions we were responsible for by the specified date and do our “regular tasks” at the same time”

This real obstacle needs to be addressed at the planning stage – not when the implementation of the plan starts to go wrong. Before agreeing to complete the day with those responsible for doing so, talk to them, make sure you understand what is involved in carrying out this step and make arrangements for them to get help if needed.

The quality of the work depends on the quality of the strategic plan. The good news is that as you successfully tackle each obstacle in turn the next obstacle, and the one after that, becomes fearless.

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