Is Your Strategy at Risk? Guiding Principles to Successful Strategic Planning


By Dick Albu  –  Albu Consulting LLC

How often have you wondered why your strategic plan doesn’t seem to be working? You might be experiencing slower progress then you expected, or in some areas, you might be experiencing complete inactivity. Undoubtedly, planning and implementing strategy can at times be quite frustrating, where obstacles seem to constantly get in the way of success.

Over my years as a strategy consultant, dealing with privately held middle market companies to Fortune 500 corporations, I have been exposed to a variety of situations. As a result, I have come to realize the value of some guiding principles Chief Executives, Chief Strategy Officers, and Business Development Managers could benefit from when planning and implementing their strategic plans.

Success of any strategic plan ultimately depends on the Chief Executive’s commitment and leadership, as well as the skill and quality of the management team responsible for implementation. With this in mind, here are ten guidelines that should help your company profit from its strategic plan.

  1. Focus on strategic issues and opportunities. Don’t get bogged down with volumes of data and details. Spend more time on strategic thinking. Gather only relevant information to support business decisions.

  2. Leveraging strengths.  Don’t try to change the organization into something it is not. Conglomerates are dinosaurs. Companies need to focus on, and leverage, competitive advantages.

  3. Vision is nothing without action.  Drive action with a specific implementation plan. Too often a strategic plan ends up on a dusty shelf. Make it happen right away. Develop a detailed action plan and hold managers accountable for its implementation.

  4. The implementation plan is a living document.  Be flexible. The implementation plan is not static; rather it is a "work in progress." Be prepared to make changes, and move quickly on new opportunities.

  5. Consider retaining a qualified outside resource to help facilitate the process.  As companies grow, the need for broader experience becomes greater. An outside resource can provide credibility and invite creativity.

  6. Talk about and challenge the strategic plan often and with as many qualified people as possible.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming your strategy is perfect. Use your network of respected business associates to question and challenge your strategic plan. Don’t hesitate to ask others to help you make the strategy better.

  7. Be sure everyone in your organization understands what you are doing.  Make your employees feel they are a part of the process and the success. Don’t let rumors derail the efforts you are making. Keep your employees informed of your progress and invite comments and questions. Give your employees reasons to believe that the strategic plan will be beneficial to everyone.

  8. Move the process along at a reasonably quick pace to create momentum and enthusiasm.  Schedule progress meetings on a regular basis. Make strategic planning a priority and keep everyone interested and committed. Your people will become energized by their contribution to the process. Don’t let their day-to-day activities prevent them from making progress on assigned strategic projects.

  9. Be prepared to deal with resistance to change.  On average one third of the organization will embrace change, one third will resist change and one third will be unsure of their position. Identify the "fearless" employees that have embraced the strategic plan. Acknowledged these leaders and allow them room to succeed. At the same time, encourage those that are unsure to get involved, ask questions and help them find reasons to support the plan.

  10. Make your people responsible and accountable.  Compensate employees based on performance. Make clear that there are both positive and negative consequences depending on the attainment of specific and plainly stated goals. This will help to ensure that your employees understand the importance you place on the success of the strategic plan.

Strategic PlanningWithout question, strategic planning is an essential part of every successful company. It provides the roadmap for profitable growth. Success ultimately depends upon senior management’s ability to provide the kind of leadership to develop a well thought out, fact based strategy, and to gain the support of the organization, creating a sense of ownership and commitment that will ensure its success. 

Dick Albu is president and founder of Albu Consulting LLC, a strategy consulting firm. Albu Consulting is headquartered in Stamford, CT and the author, Dick Albu, can be reached at 203-321-2147, by e-mail at RAlbu@albuconsulting.com, or visit his website at www.albuconsulting.com.