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3 Reasons Why Corporate Strategic Planning is Important

3 Reasons Why Corporate Strategic Planning is Important

By Amanda Ferenczy

3 Reasons Why Corporate Strategic Planning is Important

Arguably, a leading cause of business failure is not having any type of strategic plan. If a business has little idea where it is headed, it will wander aimlessly without priorities, changing constantly, and with employees confused about the purpose of their jobs. This is why corporate strategic planning is critical to business success, even if the planning process takes time and resources.

1) Strategic planning provides clarity, direction, and focus for your organization.

The primary purpose of strategic planning is to connect the organization’s mission and vision by addressing these three questions:

  • What is our purpose? (Mission)
  • What do we want to achieve? (Vision)
  • How are we going to get there? (Plan)

Perhaps the most obvious reason to engage in corporate strategic planning is that it provides direction and focus by way of a written document. Having a clearly articulated mission and vision enables the company to develop a strategic plan that is a literal roadmap for success. Confusion and day-to-day business fires are often reasons why strategic planning yields little results, but these risks can be mitigated by having a plan that is written down, with clear assignments, dues dates, and deliverables, so that employees know what must be executed by when.

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2) A strategic plan drives organizational alignment.

A strategic plan isn’t just a document to keep everyone on track. Having everyone participate in the strategic planning process fosters collegiality and creates an opportunity for discussion on the direction of the organization, which is why strategic planning often results in cultural transformation. In addition, the process promotes the open and creative exchange of ideas, including resolving disputes and working out effective solutions.

Most organizations have hard-working employees who put their best efforts into areas that have no effect on strategic success or accomplishing important goals and objectives. Having employees involved in the strategic planning process not only ensures everyone is on the same page when the execution phase of the planning process begins, but also that employees will be able to make better decisions and execute in the best interests of the plan and plan goals. This is why corporate strategic planning serves as the vehicle for answering the question, “How can we better align all our resources to maximize our strategic success?”

3) A plan communicates your message.

Even if you have strong mission and vision statements, most leaders walk around with a virtual strategy locked in their heads. The CEO inherently knows the organization’s strategic direction and the tactics that need to be executed. Unfortunately, if the strategy isn’t down on paper, or if only a small handful of people know the priorities articulated by the strategy, then the likelihood that the strategy is executed effectively is greatly diminished. This is why strategic planning is so important – serves as a communications vehicle for what must be done to create short- and long-term sustainability.

AchieveIt’s cloud-based software is the ideal technology for answering the question, “why strategic planning?”, as it enables organizations to manage and track the execution of every type of plan in real-time – whether strategic plans, operational plans, project plans, or quality improvement plans.

Learn What Makes a Good Example of a Strategic Plan

Learn What Makes a Good Example of a Strategic Plan

By Amanda Ferenczy

Learn What Makes a Good Example of a Strategic Plan

What Makes a Good Example of a Strategic Plan?

Many companies are looking for help, searching for an example of a strategic plan as a yardstick they can use to compare their own plans. But strategic plans can come in many forms, shapes and sizes; they are not a “one size fits all” document.  There are simple strategic plans that include goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics, as well as complex plan structures that include multiple levels and layers. How developed your plan needs to be depends on several factors, including the level of accountability your are trying to create, the time frame for implementing the plan, and the culture of your organization. In this post, you’ll see an example of a strategic plan that is most common among businesses today.

Strategic Plan Example: Basic Structure

At a minimum, strategic and operational plans contain three levels that serve specific functions. These are listed in inverse order as they appear in a plan, to demonstrate the linkage from bottom-up:

  • Tactics: These are task assignments that must be carried out on an individual basis. These action items comprise the strategies. For instance, if you have a client satisfaction strategy that focuses on an annual client event, there are a number of things that must be completed in order for the event to happen. These are the tactics, which include due dates, deliverables, and are assigned to specific people for execution.
  • Strategies: The collection of the tactics need a name, and this name is the strategy. The name of the strategy provides the focus for something specific, and the strategy itself contains the individual tactics. As such, strategies are the broad action-oriented items that we implement to achieve the objectives. In this example, the client event strategy is designed to improve overall client satisfaction. We may have additional strategies aimed at improving client satisfaction, and each of these other strategies will have a collection of tactics, too.
  • Objectives: These are quantifiable and measurable targets, that answer the questions of how much, by when. There is an old adage that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. As such, plans without measurable objectives are not plans at all; they are merely task lists. Objectives include baseline performance, targeted performance, and an established date for achieving the objective. Any example of a strategic plan must include objectives, as they are the foundation for planning. In this example, our objective is to increase client satisfaction from 82% to 90% by December 31, 2017. How we accomplish that is the business of strategies and tactics.

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Strategic Plan Example: Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics

Objective 1: Increase client satisfaction from 82.0% to 90.0% by December 31.

Strategy 1.1: Implement annual client conference
• Tactic 1.1.1: Identify date and venue
• Tactic 1.1.2: Develop agenda
• Tactic 1.1.3: Identify and invite speakers
• Tactic 1.1.4: Develop social events
• Tactic 1.1.5: Develop menus
• Tactic 1.1.6: Develop invitations

Strategic Plan Example: Strategic Themes and Goals

Although objectives, strategies, and tactics are core elements in any example of a strategic plan, they are not the only elements. Many plans are more robust and include additional levels in the hierarchy. These levels are usually referred to as strategic themes and goals, and they come before objectives. As such, a fully developed plan would look like the example of a strategic plan below:

  • Strategic Themes: These are one- to three-word affinity group headings used to compartmentalize strategic and operational plans, such as Quality, Safety, People, Customers, Service, Finance, and Growth. For companies that use strategic themes, four to six such categories appear to be the most common.
  • Goals: These are broad statements that translate the organization’s vision statement into something more meaningful and time-bound. If strategic themes are also used, goal statements are used to translate the vision to specific strategic themes.
  • Objectives
  • Strategies
  • Tactics

Strategic Plan Example: A Complete Plan

Strategic Theme: Satisfaction

Goal: To be considered a trusted partner by our clients

Strategy 1.1: Implement annual client conference
• Tactic 1.1.1: Identify date and venue
• Tactic 1.1.2: Develop agenda
• Tactic 1.1.3: Identify and invite speakers
• Tactic 1.1.4: Develop social events
• Tactic 1.1.5: Develop menus
• Tactic 1.1.6: Develop invitations

Objective 1: Increase client satisfaction from 82.0% to 90.0% by December 31.

Keep in mind that there are many acceptable formats for strategic plans and you should use the approach that is right for you. Some companies prefer the one-page approach and others don’t adhere to specific approaches other than perhaps implementing a basic structure like the ones above. Either way, remember that creating a strategic plan is only the beginning; the hard part is executing it. That’s when you call AchieveIt.

About AchieveIt

AchieveIt’s Execution Insight Platform is a web-based solution that is purpose-built for executives to get a view into the performance and execution of their critical, high-level initiatives, which is not easy to get in either spreadsheets, email or project management systems. It features custom dashboards (no more Excel hell!), automated email alerts and the ability to see not just your data, but the critical context behind it, so you get a full picture of how you’re executing your strategic plan, in an easy, efficient and effective way.

Four Stages to Creating a Strategy Execution Culture

Create a Strategy Execution Culture

By Amanda Ferenczy

Download Four Stages to Creating a Strategy Execution Culture to learn how to build an organizational culture that amplifies execution and results.

4 Stages to Creating a Strategy Execution Culture

The ability to effectively execute is the critical key in turning vision into reality. Plan poorly, and market forces are likely to crush you. Execute poorly, and results are far worse.

Creating an organizational culture of execution can have profound impacts on results, but it doesn’t happen overnight. An organization must make its way through each of the four stages of cultural transformation. Then, it must hardwire the tools that allow execution to become the cultural norm.

In this guide, you will learn:

  • 4 stages of cultural transformation
  • How to identify which stage your organization is in
  • Tools and changes required to progress through each stage
  • 5 tips to hardwire a culture of execution and innovation

 


About AchieveIt

Organizations spend a lot of time and resources putting together business plans. However, many organizations are guilty of not dedicating the same amount of focus to executing them.Get out of Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Effective execution – not just a great plan – is the only way to amplify the impact of your organization.

Successful strategic leaders make good on their planning investments and drive results by using AchieveIt’s software and services to promote accountability, visibility, collaboration and alignment.

Drive Results with AchieveIt

Executive leaders looking to overcome the challenges of execution will get a view into the performance of their critical, high-level initiatives with platform features like customizable dashboards, smart email alerts and the ability to see not just your data, but the critical context behind it, so you get a full picture of how you’re executing, in an easy, efficient and effective way.

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Committed Partner in Your Success

AchieveIt offers not only an intuitive Execution Insight Platform, but also a full Customer Success Team to provide ongoing support. Your designated Customer Success Manager will work with you to make your existing plan the most effective it can be, upload it into the web-based strategy execution software and on-board your software users on site. AchieveIt’s Customer Success Team has seen the implementation of thousands of plans, and will continue to support your organization with best practices, training and insights along the way.

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Strategy Development 101: Strategic Plan Example

By Amanda Ferenczy

Strategy Development 101: Strategic Plan Example

In this strategic plan example, we review the structure of a strategic plan for a hotel chain and include elements of the plan itself. New England Hospitality Company, a fictitious company that owns and operates 37 hotels, is embarking on its first strategic plan and will be used for this strategic plan example. To help identify the primary areas of strategic focus – and to gain consensus among its management team – the organization agreed to focus its strategy using specific tools, and to also use a five-level hierarchy of strategic themes, goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics.
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4 Musts to Avoid Strategy Implementation Failure

4 Musts to Avoid Strategy Implementation Failure

By Amanda Ferenczy

4 Musts to Avoid Strategy Implementation Failure

The idea of strategy implementation failure is enough to keep any strategy director up at night, and definitely capable of inspiring a few horrific career-related nightmares. Yet there are steps you can take throughout the year to build a more implementable strategy, and correct course if you’re already in execution mode.

AchieveIt’s Director of Professional Services Joe Krause was featured on Biz 1190’s The Eric Holtzclaw Show to discuss his views on strategic planning and strategy implementation. With his 20+ years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, Eric Hotlzclaw’s radio show discusses topics relevant to those trying to build and grow their businesses. His interview with Krause outlines four things any organization must do to avoid strategy implementation failure.

1. Track at a Higher Level

“If you apply the saying ‘how to eat an elephant one bite at a time’ to your strategic planning—think of your overall goal or objective as an elephant, and the tactics as the bites.”*

When we think of tracking progress, many think of it at the most granular level, like ’email John’, or ‘update proposal for Cindy’. But just tracking these simple tasks day in and day out won’t guarantee you’re achieving your overall goals and objectives. We all have the best intentions in creating our strategic plans at the beginning of the year. None of us set out for a failed strategy implementation. But we somehow end up asking ourselves at the end of the year “what ever happened to that grand strategic plan” and “why did we fall short?”

Leaders must view tasks and projects in a way that reflects back to the overarching goals of the organization. Otherwise, you and your team are putting in countless hours of work and effort, just to find out that those goals and objectives still haven’t been met.

2. Create a Cadence of Accountability

“Strategy by its very nature impacts multiple people. So if you have one person doing the input, there’s a problem there.”*

If you really want to see results, it is crucial to create a cadence of accountability within your team or organization. This includes establishing clear deliverables, firm due dates and straightforward ownership. If team members are unsure of what they are responsible for and when items are due, you are bound for strategy implementation mayhem.

It’s also important to decide on an update frequency that works best for you and your team– should your team provide status updates daily, weekly, monthly, etc.? This may vary depending on the urgency and nature of the specific project, but is nonetheless essential to establish these expectations up front.

Consider sharing status updates from your team, rather than just keeping them for your own reference. Creating transparency allows for ongoing inspection by everyone in the organization. And ongoing inspection will send accountability into the atmosphere.

3. Link the Quantitative and the Qualitative

“If you don’t have a metric that you’re tracking, or a person to own that number, you’re going to fail every time.”*

Many organizations use items like “work harder, not smarter” or “foster a culture of accountability” as action steps within their strategic plans. And although these are great in theory, it leaves little to no room for actually tracking your strategy implementation progress.  When you support every piece of quantitative information with qualitative, you provide yourself with context to make the best decision possible. It gives you the “why” behind the numbers. So whether it’s good or bad, you can have a bit more clarity on how to move forward.

4. Decide on a Software Tool to Drive it Home

“AchieveIt allows organizations to track their plans in real time. It allows your team to see if they’re executing on what they said they were going to do, see where they’re falling short and pivot on the fly. It also provides a clear look into how the business is performing on a regular basis.”*

Using a software tool to help you implement your strategic plan will remove much of the burden associated with creating, tracking, assigning and reporting. You need to decide on a platform that gives you the right amount of flexibility and structure with your strategy implementation.

Check out how AchieveIt’s Execution Insight Platform can help your organization gain both meaningful intelligence on execution and the ability to drive results with it.

 

Guide to Gazelles’ One Page Strategic Plan

Gazelles’ Approach To Strategic Planning

By Amanda Ferenczy

A Guide to Gazelles’ One Page Strategic Plan

Gazelles’ One Page Strategic Plan is one of the most popular strategic planning templates available on the market today. Created by Verne Harnish in his book, “Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t,” this approach to strategic planning is meant to help businesses simplify their strategic priorities and create a plan that is both actionable and effective for growth.

The 3 Tenets of the ‘One Page Strategic Plan’ Approach to Strategic Planning

Gazelles’ One Page Strategic Plan is designed to help businesses make the decisions that will best support their growth goals. The decisions can be broken down into the following broad categories:

1. Strategic Priorities

Defined as ‘Rocks’, strategic priorities define the actions and the involved stakeholders for the business’s quarterly activities. Executives are asked to complete a Core Values/Beliefs section, as well as a Purpose section, to define the direction of the organization moving forward. Building on this foundation, executives then complete five ‘Rocks,’ or quarterly objectives, and assign an accountable party to each Rock. By limiting executives to five priorities per quarter, the Gazelles system is meant to encourage focus on the largest drivers of organizational growth.

2. Resource Allocation

When it comes to resources, the primary concern is the people necessary to execute the aforementioned Rocks. Executives are tasked with enumerating the people involved with execution, assigning accountable parties to Rocks, and determining the critical number of people necessary to achieve objectives. The purpose of the exercise is for executives to gain insight into the productivity and utilization of their employees. Upon seeing how many employees are aligned with strategic Rocks, and how many are not, executives can reallocate employees to the organization’s highest priority objectives.

3. Financial Viability

Here we explore both the key financial drivers of the organization at large, as well as the financial impact of the organization’s headcount. The One Page Strategic Plan includes current and expected financial metrics from the balance and income sheets, including revenue targets, profit margin, cash, accounts receivable, inventory turnover, and revenue per employee. By listing these financial drivers, executives can correlate the strategic priorities and allocate resources accordingly.

Questions the One Page Strategic Plan Helps Executives Answer

Building on the three themes listed above, Gazelles approach to strategic planning enables executives to explore a collection of key business drivers. These are broken down into organizational timeframes: big picture, three to five years, annual, and quarterly.

Big Picture Questions:

  • What is our core mission, and what is our vision moving forward?
  • What is our organization’s purpose?
  • What are our Big Hairy Audacious Goals? Where will we be in 10 years?

Three to Five Year Questions:

  • What are the opportunities and threats in our market?
  • What are our priorities over the next three to five years?
  • What are our financial targets over the next three to five years?
  • What is our brand promise in the market?
  • What are our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for this timeframe?

Annual Questions:

  • What are our most critical priorities this year?
  • What are our most critical financial numbers this year?
  • What are our most critical KPIs (key performance indicators) this year?

Quarterly Questions:

  • What are the objectives that everyone needs to be focused on, and accountable to, in our day-to-day operations?

What is truly unique about Gazelles’ One Page Strategic Plan, and that approach to strategic planning, is the focus on growth. With this template, priorities are set with a special focus on the financial resources and the people needed for execution, which is why many people believe Gazelles provides a strategic planning format built specifically for strategy execution. But planning is only as good as the actions that follow, so it is important that once the template is complete, it is placed into an environment that allows for the assignment and tracking of outlined priorities. This is where AchieveIt can help! Contact us today to see how our business insights platform can help enable the execution of your strategic plan.

Chief Strategic Officers

Watch How Chief Strategic Officers Can Drive Execution

By Amanda Ferenczy

Most organizations do strategic planning or organizational planning in spreadsheets. LOTS of spreadsheets. But as you execute, your organization and your strategic plans get out of alignment. Spreadsheets are just files… in order to keep the status of the plans in them current, someone – YOU – has to chase down, collect and combine input from other people. So you spend hours and hours hunting down colleagues, cutting and pasting from emails, combining spreadsheets… instead of driving better execution. Watch the video below to see how chief strategic officers and other executives can get out of Excel hell and improve strategy execution.

Watch How To Improve Strategy Execution

Most chief strategic officers have help building the strategic plan, but little help with improving strategy execution. But it’s execution that separates good businesses from great ones. In order to drive successful strategy execution, you need a solution that gives you visibility into how you’re really executing against your strategic plan, in an easy, efficient and effective way.

AchieveIt’s Execution Insight Platform is a web-based solution that is purpose-built for executives to get a view into the performance and execution of their critical, high-level initiatives, which is not easy to get in either spreadsheets, email or project management systems. It features customizable dashboards (no more Excel hell!), smart email alerts and the ability to see not just your data, but the critical context behind it, so you get a full picture of how you’re executing, in an easy, efficient and effective way.

No more spreadsheets, no more hounding, no more email overload. Just real visibility into how you’re really executing your most critical strategic initiatives, in easy-to-customize executive dashboards, so you can execute with excellence and achieve better results. Learn how AchieveIt can help you improve strategy execution, today.

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Strategic Plan Template To Drive Better Execution

A Strategic Plan Template To Drive Better Execution

By Amanda Ferenczy

A Strategic Plan Template To Drive Better Execution

Many strategy executives are curious as to whether or not their strategic plan is following execution best practices. This four level strategic plan template will help you create a plan that’s optimized for execution.

Free Strategic Plan Template

The four-level strategic plan template will help you:

 

  • Build and implement a best practice strategic plan
  • Visually align themes, goals and strategies
  • Hold people accountable
  • Keep an eye on due dates
  • Drive results

Download Template

If you find this template helpful, you’ll likely love our Execution Insight Platform. Instead of wasting time chasing updates, drowning in spreadsheets and emails, and still having little insight into how your organization is actually implementing against its plan, try our strategy execution solution.

AchieveIt’s Execution Insight Platform is a Web-based solution that is purpose-built for strategy teams and executives. The platform automates updates, allows you to build real-time customizable dashboards for easy reporting and drive results, accountability and insight into your execution – without dying in Excel Hell. Sign up for a demo today.

About the Creators

This strategic plan template was created in a collaborative effort between CircleMakers and AchieveIt.

About CircleMakers

CircleMakers offers strategy services that are targeted to their clients’ greatest challenges and opportunities for growth. They bring deep expertise in helping organizations identify new growth potential, craft strategy that moves people to action and enhance overall performance. CircleMakers has helped organizations access and activate their brands in multi-billion dollar markets, establishing paths to consistent double-digit revenue growth.

 

About AchieveIt

AchieveIt’s goal is to help business leaders bridge the gap between strategy and execution. The AchieveIt Execution Insight Platform is a Web-based software solution that was purpose-built to solve the problems of strategy execution. No other solution provides meaningful intelligence on execution, eliminates the need for spreadsheets and reduces the time spent gathering strategy updates by more than 90%. So far, we’ve helped more than 300 companies drive better results by giving them an effective and efficient way to understand how they are executing against their most critical initiatives at any given time.

Head of Corporate Strategy

Head of Corporate Strategy? Worried About Execution?

By Amanda Ferenczy

Your Head of Corporate Strategy Needs Real Visibility Into Strategy Execution, Not More Spreadsheets

This probably sounds very familiar if you’re a head of corporate strategy. Many companies develop great strategic plans and attempt to build strategic plan reporting dashboards to understand how they are executing against their strategic goals, but soon realize that Excel, email and PowerPoint are not an effective or efficient way to track execution.

If you’re like most strategy officers or other strategy professionals, you have seen strategy software solutions that were all about strategic planning… but offered little help with execution or reporting results on strategic goals. But it’s strong execution that separates good companies from great ones, and allows organizations to grow farther and faster.   You need strategy execution software that will help you track updates and drive better results.

AchieveIt’s Execution Insight Platform is a web-based solution that is purpose-built for a chief strategy officer to get a view into the performance and execution of his/her company’s critical, strategic goals, which is not easy to get in either spreadsheets, email or project management systems. It features customizable dashboards (no more Excel hell!), smart email alerts and the ability to see not just your data, but the critical context behind it, so you get a full picture of how you’re executing, in an easy, efficient and effective way.

No more spreadsheets, no more hounding, no more email overload. Just real insight into your how you’re performing against your strategic goals, so you can execute with excellence and achieve better results. Learn how AchieveIt can help you understand your strategy execution and get better results, today.

AchieveIt Saves The Head of Corporate Strategy From …

  • Wasting hours chasing colleagues, hounding them for updates to KPIs.
  • Spending too much time combining Excel and PowerPoint files.
  • Drowning in an avalanche of emails, asking for updates.
  • Missing critical data and context needed to make decisions.
  • Lacking visibility into execution across departments, business units or regions.

Help Your Head of Corporate Strategy Start Driving Better Strategic Plan Execution, Today!

Mission Statements are Key to the Corporate Strategy Process

Mission Statements Key To Corporate Strategy Process

By Amanda Ferenczy

Mission Statements Key to Corporate Strategy Process

It’s time that mission statements and vision statements get their just rewards; although often overlooked, they’re key to the corporate strategy process. They play a critical role – or should play a critical role – as bookends for every strategic and operational plan. In short, think of the mission statement as the starting point and the vision as the destination. Without mission statements and vision statements, plans can and will wander around aimlessly, travelling to a lot of exotic locales, but never actually getting to where they need to be.

In this post we tackle the mission statement as a critical component of your corporate strategy process.

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