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  1. 1. 8 TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR STRATEGIC PLAN ALIVE As humans, we do reasonably well when it comes to planning ahead, setting goals, yearly resolutions, fitness objectives, etc, but one thing we often lack is the ability to follow through or implement. Similarly, as an organisation or an entity; either as big as a nation or as small as an entrepreneurship business, we tend to set objectives that will drive how we progress either in meeting the needs of electorates or expectations of stakeholders. However, we still get plagued with the inability to implement our wonderful plans. I am from Nigeria, and I can tell you we are not short of great plans. From the Vision 2020, Nigeria Infrastructure Master Plan, Agricultural Transformational Agenda, 7 Point Agenda, 5 Point Agenda, the list goes on and on. I have had the opportunity to read most of these documents which are brimming with shining hope for the nation. The only silent question that brushes through my mind after digesting the elaborate pages is ‘would it ever be done?’ It is all too common within organisations, for a select group of individuals to spend hours or days in a nice fancy location, with the aim of ‘strategising’ on how to move the organisation forward, achieve certain concrete objectives and address key issues. It’s one thing to come up with great strategies and goals but it’s quite another to actually get them done. This is what is typically called the ‘Execution Gap’. The following tips touch on key elements that affect the level of implementation of any strategic plan: 1. Lead by example: As a leader, you are a critical piece to the successful implementation of the organisation’s strategic plan. Showing commitment and continuously communicating about the various elements of the plan are very important. Leadership display of commitment to agreed initiatives, actions and decisions determines if any strategic plan would have a chance of staying alive. 2. Elicit support from everyone: The involvement of every team member from the onset and getting them engaged in the strategic planning process is very important for buy-in. Assign team members the responsibility of contributing to the success of at least one or three or five goals. Each person should be able to see how they contribute to the success of the plan.
  2. 2. 3. Task someone with the responsibility of managing the plan: This person who will be the one to communicate the plan, track progress, update the plan and facilitate the strategy meeting. This is an important function and is ultimately accountable for ensuring that actions and decisions are taken in accordance with the plan. 4. Keep it simple and clear: Simplicity eliminates complications and ambiguity. It should be able to clearly state where you are as an organisation (mission), where you are going (vision) and how you are going to get there (objectives and goals). With this, everyone can clearly see the direction of the organisation. It also lets everyone know what the focus of the organisation is and what it is not. Once it is read by anyone in the organisation, they should be able to understand it. 5. Have a summary: Creating a summarised one-page version of the plan that people can look at quickly and see what the focus of the organisation is, without having to dig through and get lost in mass of words and numbers. 6. Use a tracking mechanism: It is advisable to use a scorecard to monitor progress and achievements against the set goals. This involves setting performance targets and key performance indicators for each goal. 7. Hold monthly review meetings: Yes, have monthly strategy review meetings! This may simply involve converting a regular meeting into a session, where all that is discussed is the plan and everyone reports on their accomplishments. Feedback on progress and accomplishments against the plan can be limited to two minutes each, if the meeting is well structured. However, an appointed person should let all involved know from the start, when, how often and review meetings would take place during the planning period. 8. Incentivise the plan and celebrate: Attach some incentives to make it exciting. Everyone loves to be gratified in some shape or form. It could be with time off, presents, accolades, developmental privileges, etc. I can assure you that if you follow these tips, your plan will not die the usual way; ‘death by dust on the shelf’. Happy execution!!
  3. 3. About the Author: This article was written by Kunle Awolowo. He is currently a Senior Consultant with Phillips Consulting’s Business Advisory Service practice. Kunle has over 10 years experience in project management, strategy formulation, research, performance management, business process re- engineering, execution management and the application of the PRINCE2 methodology. He has consulted for government, private and public enterprises in oil & gas, financial services, telecommunications and service industries. These opportunities have continued to build his capacity and commitment to delivering superior solutions to clients. He is also a passionate facilitator who also takes on photography in his spare time.