Planning – The Key To Execution

Planning – The Key To Execution I know that I keep banging on about Organisational Alignment but it’s fundamental to the execution of any business strategy.  If management cannot articulate where the organisation is now, its destination and the journey, how can everyone in the company play their role in getting there?

I was talking to a past client recently who runs a business network and he was saying that his members are planned out and any mention of strategic planning provokes reactions such as “not again – been there, done that!” or at best stifled yawns.  I’m sure that their reaction is due to the following …

  • They see strategic planning as looking at the future through rose coloured spectacles with little relevance to what they are focusing on tomorrow and next week
  • They have got over the novelty of creating mission and vision statements that didn’t seem to achieve much
  • They view planning and execution as two separate exercises
  • They’ve spent far too long debating what they want to do and far too little time  debating how they are going to do it
  • They have this view that strategic planning is something they do in the good times – in the tough times, the focus returns to the short term
  • The environment in which they operate is changing so rapidly that any strategic plan is bound to lose its currency as the assumptions on which it was based no longer hold true
  • They did their strategic plan “three years ago” and its not time for a review yet

Let’s take these points one by one.

Yes – one of the major mistakes made by strategic planners is that they do not graft the future onto the present.  The first priority of any strategic plan is to nut out how you can do better what you currently do.  Otherwise, you might not have a future.

Don’t worry about mission and vision statements – there are many more important things to consider.

The key to effective execution lies in the quality of the planning.  The seeds of success or failure in execution are sown the moment the planners sit down to plan.

Time spent assessing the implications of “this is what we are going to do” on every function within the organisation is frequently woefully inadequate.  As a consequence the barriers to execution continue to mount until the plan is quietly abandoned.

What is more important – having a plan for growth and good times or one for survival and tough times?  Does having a plan for survival make it any less of a plan?

If the assumptions on which your plan is based no longer hold true, then change the plan – don’t spit the dummy and abandon strategic planning.

If you had new tyres fitted to your car which the suppliers guaranteed for 60,000kms and you had two punctures after 20,000kms, would you drive around on flat tyres for another 40,000kms?

Organisational alignment is the first of the five requirements for effective execution.  Each one is dependent on the factors that precede it.  So what’s the first one – organisational alignment – dependent on?  The quality of strategic planning, of course.

So the logic runs like this.  You only get rewarded for what you do – your ability to execute.  The most fundamental requirement for successful execution is organisational alignment and that in turn is dependent on the quality of the planning.  Thus having a relevant up-dated and widely communicated strategic plan at all times is the basis of success.


2 Responses to Planning – The Key To Execution

  1. completewebstrategy says:

    Great post; we both share a strong passion for strategy. I just subscribed; take care.

  2. Excellent points are made in this post. A failure to articulate strategy is a failure to communicate. More times than not, this failure to communicate will adversely impact execution. It is essential to view planning and execution as part of the same continuous and iterative process. It is truly amazing how frequently elusive this is seen to be in contemporary business practice.

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