Common Strategic Planning Mistakes – Part 2

Monday, 12. November 2012

In the first part of this two-part blog post, we examined common mistakes made in strategy development. Today, we want to explore another set of common mistakes that occur during strategy execution and show you how to avoid them.

Mistake #6: Lack of communication between management and employees

It can’t be repeated often enough: communication is the key link between strategy development and execution. Remember, it is the employees who need to execute the strategy. If they are not aware of your strategy or don´t understand it fully, they simply won´t be able to the job successfully. The best approach to avoid this pitfall is to create a communication plan that provides a road map for getting your message across to the employees. Make sure to use a variety of information channels, use language that can be understood by everyone, and maintain an ongoing and open dialog. Every employee should be able to summarize the strategy in his or her own words.

Mistake #7: Lack of accountability

This point is closely related to the preceding one. Employees not only need to be able to understand the strategy, they also need to know how they can contribute to its success. Responsibilities for individual strategic measures and initiatives should be clearly assigned. Everyone involved in strategy implementation and execution should know exactly for which decisions and actions he or she will be held accountable for. Otherwise, many employees will simply carry on as before, and the implementation process will not yield the desired results.

Mistake #8: Lack of empowerment

In order to be able to fulfill their responsibilities in strategy execution, employees need to have the necessary authority and tools at hand. However, in practice this is often not the case. Ensure to equip key personnel with clearly defined decision-making powers and resist the urge to micro-manage everything. Trust your employees. This way they will be able focus their attention on achieving the shared goals, rather than second-guessing their own decisions. Also make sure that the employees have sufficient information and knowledge to make wise decisions. Ensure free flow of information across departmental boundaries and provide training opportunities when needed.

Mistake #9:  Performance measures not linked to organizational goals

Use your strategic plan as a standard for measuring employee performance. Reward employees individually and/or collectively if they meet or exceed strategic objectives. Financial incentives will motivate them to do an even better job at implementing your strategy!

Mistake #10: Lack of integrating strategic planning and budgeting

It should be common sense, yet many businesses fail to allocate the necessary resources to implement their strategies. They trust that funds, staff, and materials will be available. In most cases, this assumption turns out to be wrong. Make sure to avoid this mistake by simply estimating required resources for each of our strategic initiatives and making budget requests accordingly.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. However, when you are able to avoid these 10 common mistakes, you are well underway in creating a solid foundation for your organization´s strategic plan and strategic planning process.