One of the strategic planning phenomena I’ve noticed this year is a tendency for execution to go better with some strategic action plans than others. There are several reasons why execution might not go well – outside influences, poor estimation of time requirements or time availability are the most common – but one element stands out as very common when execution goes well: the energy that members of the strategic planning team have for the project. This makes perfect sense, and it also presents us with a challenge.
The challenge is this: some of the most strategically valuable activities that occur as a result of strategic planning are also some of the most difficult. How can we get our management teams excited about taking the harder path?
I suspect the answer lies in the nature of the strategic planning process in general, and in how we assess opportunities in particular. When you look at your opportunities, it’s certainly useful to take into account how much energy your team members have for the ideas. I will hypothesize that the greatest strategic successes occur where your team is excited about doing things that people in other companies would find difficult or unpleasant, so it will often pay to use these factors in assessing opportunities.
Another possible answer for this challenge lies in the area of strategic competency. I have noticed that a truly unique strategic competency that is understood and embrace by the management team leads to excitement about opportunities that other companies would shy away from. This excitement usually comes from pride in the skills associated with your competency – and should always be encouraged.