Crafting a winning strategy is only the first step toward achieving your goals for making your department or the whole organization better. You have to formulate a game plan for getting what you want to accomplish done. Yet even the best-laid strategic plan is destined for failure unless the right people are able and willing to work together and commit to putting that plan into action.
Strategy execution, the implementation phase of your project, requires selecting the best processes and systems, allocating and optimizing resources, establishing benchmarks and time frames, and clearly defining roles and responsibilities for team members. At its foundation, however, is gaining the support of key stakeholders, well beyond your core team. Closing the gap between a great strategic plan and its successful execution begins with something as simple and essential as talking with the people involved and impacted.
To help ensure that the people vital to implementing your strategy are fully on board, from launch to completion, we recommend this three-step process:
- Identify the stakeholders affected by the project. Who has to approve the plan? Who will be directly involved in doing the work? Who will be responsible for making sure the work gets done? Who will have to put up the resources? Will outside vendors be involved? Are there any internal customers? What governmental or regulatory bodies might have an interest?
- Reach out to the key people and ask for their honest feedback. What are their views on the project? Do they have any concerns? Do they have major reservations? Consider the entire scope of the project and its outcomes but with an emphasis on the short term.
- Actively work toward mutual agreement among all the stakeholders. Establish a plan that reflects the different needs of each group and clarifies how you will approach them. Hold small group meetings, whether on site or using collaborative software, to gather the thoughts of people who are likely to raise common issues. Have personal conversations by phone or in person where you can further probe for ideas, support, and unspoken barriers to success. When dealing with larger groups, consider conducting internal internet surveys, which can be done relatively inexpensively and quickly.
Not sure what to ask each stakeholder to collect the information you need? Here are 10 questions to use as a guide:
- What resonates with you about the strategy?
- What strengths and weaknesses do you see?
- How do you think implementing the strategy should begin?
- Do you have concerns that need to be resolved to ensure success?
- How will this strategy impact your activities and performance?
- What needs to be addressed in this strategy to ensure your ability to support it?
- Are there processes, people, or anything else in your area that could be impacted by the proposed strategy?
- How do you want to be engaged in the execution of this plan?
- What kind of support or resources would you require?
- What best describes how you can relate to or work with this effort? (For example: engaged directly, fully committed, indirectly supportive, unsure, or still opposed.)
The stakeholder feedback you get will determine the extent to which the strategy should be adjusted. So, the intent is to incorporate as many ideas as possible - and to give all stakeholders a sense of ownership. Making changes to your strategy in its initial stage requires a lot less effort than it would to make them later. And remember: securing stakeholder buy-in for your strategic plan is vital to its successful execution.
This article first appeared on amanet.org and adapted for CMC. Used with permission. All rights reserved.