Strategic planning efforts ideally create a long-term “road map” leading to future success. However, maintaining momentum while moving on down that road is a real challenge. This blog series offers five tweaks to how you lead through strategy implementation to strengthen strategic results. In this post, I share with you how you can begin limited implementation immediately and unleash new momentum needed to push hard on the more complex strategic goals.
During strategic planning, there are many topics raised that hinder success, but not all are strategic issues – meaning they may not be issues that require new planning to achieve future goals. Often planning discussions shed light on issues in behaviors or patterns within the organization that inadvertently cause friction or expose gaps in management practices. While a planning team may integrate these problems into a broader strategic initiative to address comprehensively in their new strategic plan, they could leave these issues unresolved.
Eliminating friction or closing management gaps should be short-term and high priority objectives. We call these low hanging fruit; easy to reach and quick to resolve. When leadership teams or individuals make changes in their behavior or modify patterns immediately following a strategic planning process, three awesome things happen:
- You demonstrate that you have listened. It is one thing to ask for feedback as part of the strategic assessment. However, it is an entirely different thing to indicate that you have heard the feedback and it has influenced you. When you come out of a long-range planning meeting and acknowledge behaviors or patterns that need to change immediately, you improve operations and morale immediately.
- You embrace change. When you act differently, you demonstrate a desire and ease with adapting to change. Change is part of growth, so when leaders demonstrate comfort with change, they set the expectation to embrace change and prepare to evolve. To execute a strategic plan, you will face change repeatedly. When you act on making change for these low-stake issues, you indicate that change is coming, and you are ready for it.
- You show commitment to growth. Again, these immediate changes are not the big shifts that will produce significant strategic results. Implementing small changes can unleash confidence and renew momentum that can aid you to the end of your journey. By addressing these low hanging fruit issues, you make an immediate and visible commitment to your new direction. You signal: “We are serious, things are evolving.”
So, before your next planning meeting ends, identify and agree upon the two or three small changes you can act on immediately, to begin with, the change you want to create. You will ignite new momentum and start down your new road map immediately.