While a corporate vision tells everyone in your organization where they are going, strategy tells them how they are going to get there. A solid business growth strategy outlines a unique path that provides its customers truly differentiated value relative to its competitors. This is what increases a company’s value.
Sometimes, however, we underestimate the third element—execution. Execution is what clears the way and puts structures, processes, and capabilities in place to make strategy successful. Powerful strategies require well-planned strategic initiatives. Without a commitment to executing these initiatives, strategic planning and strategy development is, for the most part, a waste of effort.
That said, a big part of successful strategic planning is the ultimate commitment to executing key strategic initiatives. Properly planning and executing strategic initiatives is a critical success factor, and must become a core process and competency throughout the organization.
In addition, positioning initiatives within the context of the company’s vision and strategy is as important as planning the detailed execution of the initiative. It is this positioning that gives the initiative its “WHY”—an important question to ask and answer when an initiative hits bumps in the road or people get discouraged by the effort required.
With this in mind, we offer this simple outline to help position and plan strategic initiatives.
1. Describe How This Initiative Will Advance the Company’s Vision and Strategic Goals
This creates the context for action. This is the WHY for this initiative existing, and is vital to executing the strategy and fulfilling the company’s vision.
2. Provide A Clear Statement of the Desired Outcomes of this Initiative
What will success look like using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based) goals? This defines the scope of the initiative and when the initiative is complete. Commitments to specific outcomes focus and mobilize teams.
3. Plan for Initiative Success
While the strategic initiative is critical to fulfilling the company’s strategy, every initiative has to have its own strategy. How will the team go about achieving the identified outcomes?
4. Define Roles and Accountabilities
Almost all strategic initiatives require cross-functional participation. So, it is critical to understand the different roles required, as well as each person's accountabilities. The most critical role to define first is the initiative leader. She/he is the single point of accountability for the successful completion. Together with the leader, this is the initiative team responsible for execution.
5. Identify Key Initiative Tasks
Along with identifying the tasks, identify the resources to complete the tasks and estimate the time it will take.
6. Create a Timeline Summary
Identify the key milestones and lay out a timeline for the initiative. This determines the target completion date.
7. Define Interdependencies
Sometimes the initiative team will have to rely on internal functions outside of their sphere of influence or external suppliers. When this is the case, it is important to identify and consider them in the planning process.
8. Identify Risks and Risk Mitigation Strategies
As with any project, strategic initiatives will have risks that need to be identified and mitigated. If this is not done systemically, they become the Achilles heel of the project.
9. Note Key Constraints
Just like any strategy, initiatives have some constraints that need to be accounted for and the plan has to work given the identified constraints.
10. Implement Technology that Simplifies Initiative Management
Spider Impact Strategy Management software lets you visualize your initiatives in the context of your strategy. Spider impact provides a real-time view of your initiatives’ progress, enabling you to view the impact your initiatives are having on your overall strategy. So, you can invest in initiatives that are successfully driving improvements, and end ones that don’t.
Join us for our webinar, "Unlocking the Power of Initiatives," on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 10:00AM, 1:00PM & 8:00PM, to see how Spider Impact helps leverage strategic initiatives to improve business performance, make shrewd investments, and meet personal goals. Click here to register now.