Thursday, June 14, 2007

Strategic Planning Fix #3 - How Do You Track Your Implementation?

Most people who claim to do strategic planning really fall down on this one. If you are ever in a position to interview someone who claims to be a strategist, make sure you ask them what percent of strategic objectives are met by their average client. Half will choke on this question, because they don't track it (and how can you optimize something you don't track?).

The cold, hard fact about strategic planning is that it isn't over when the strategic planning meeting is over (and the consultant goes home). Strategic planning is NEVER done - it is part of a cycle of activity that should be changing your company in significant, noticeable ways over time. If you are doing strategic planning and you are not seeing noticeable change, it's probably because you have no mechanism for tracking.

In Simplified Strategic Planning, we tell people to review progress on strategic objectives by writing action plans for them with monthly milestones - and then track progress on those milestones with a mandatory monthly review meeting. This meeting takes a couple of hours most months, and is well worth the time. There are two key benefits you get from this: (1) It puts accountability into the implementation plan and (2) It gives you the ability to correct your course in mid-year when reality doesn't match your plans.

In my experience, of the hundreds of companies I've done strategic planning with over the years, the top 10% ALL do a monthly monitoring meeting and the NONE of the bottom 10% do a monthly monitoring meeting. When you consider that the top 10% in my database averaged 40% per year profit improvements over 5 years, you can see why I strongly recommend this approach!

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