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Monday, February 09, 2015

Execution Mischief - Choose your Tools Wisely


On Friday we talked about what happens when you develop a plan and do not have an execution plan. The statue of the bicycle was a visual representation of what can happen when you beautifully bind your plan and put it on the shelf.

I loved one of the comments that I received via email from a colleague in Sri Lanka who said "that is like keeping the plan on a high pedestal and daily making an incense fumes offering to the plan". He also likened it to "a patient who after the written prescription is given by the doctor, only reads it three times a day", never getting it filled.

Today we are talking about execution of your strategy. The tools that you utilize to develop the detailed plan and to get things moving are as important to a strategic plan as the strategy itself.
Our graphic today points out that you can't take the same old tools and believe that they can work in every situation. We call that execution mischief.

Of course if you don't have nails or screws or staples, then having a hammer or a screwdriver or a staple gun is futile.

The starting point is getting a plan in place that is a stretch, but that it is still achievable. Clarity and specificity are a must.

The plan must cover WHO will be responsible, WHAT you are trying to accomplish, WHEN it will be done (broken down into milestones), WHERE each initiative will be done (internally, with the customers or with your suppliers) and HOW you will get each initiative done.

If you are implementing a strategy that impacts the entire company, then you need an integrated plan. That is best accomplished by talking through the plan with a small, dedicated group that represents each of the impacted areas.

There are firms that specialize in integrated planning. Make sure that if you hire an external resource, they provide an executable, measurable plan as the work product from your planning sessions.
If you are trying to roll out a plan that is complex or spans more than three months, you need an experienced project manager (PM) that can stay on top of all of the tasks and move people along to meet their commitments. Sometimes it works best to hire someone from the outside to be the PM, reporting to someone in the C-Suite, as that way they will not be put off by the team members as an internal staffer might be.

No doubt abut it, your strategy and the budget must be aligned. But at the risk of mixing metaphors, your budget can't be the tail that wags the dog. Starting with the budget would be like hitting the hammer with the nail. I think you would agree that is total mischief that will never help you build anything.

Your team will believe in your ability to execute if you have the right tools in your hands to meet the task at hand and if you allocate resources to actually measure your results against the plan.

Investing in an integrated planning process will save money later on. Products will get to market faster, customer service will improve quicker and profits will materialize sooner.
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