Achieving the business goals within your strategic plan depends on the clarity and specificity of the implementation roadmap. This clarity and direction increases accountability and supports adaptation because each individual knows their role in the greater business objectives.
We have witnessed successful implementation tactics from top companies, including:
- Communicate the roadmap to stakeholders in relevant terms
- Establish an implementation timeline with expected performance measures
- Prepare to iterate based on insights from customer-facing employees
An Example from the Real World;
As our client rolled out their strategic plan, here are three best practices they learned:
1: Communicate the Roadmap to Stakeholders in Relevant Terms
The CEO of an industrial client sought to achieve aggressive environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. While her desired timeline was five years, after conversations with her leadership team, it became clear that it needed to be more workable. Internal functions were deeply engrained in their functional silos, and the company faced external political headwinds. With these day-to-day challenges, the rank-and-file employees didn’t share the CEO’s vision.
Our suggestion was an intermediate step, emphasizing one pillar of her ESG strategy and directing the remaining resources to encourage cross-functional collaboration. This “give to get” strategy addressed the communication burden faced by rank-and-file employees while giving the CEO a launchpad for her long-sought ESG initiative. Most imA well-defined implementation roadmap is crucial for achieving the business goals outlined in a strategic plan. The roadmap should be communicated to stakeholders in relevant terms, establish an implementation timeline with expected performance measures, and be adaptable based on insights from customer-facing employees. Through the example of an industrial client seeking to achieve ESG goals, we see the importance of building confidence among staff, establishing incremental steps and performance metrics, and including customers in the implementation journey. By following these best practices, companies can successfully navigate the implementation challenges and achieve their desired outcomes. Importantly, this built confidence among staff that the more ambitious goals were possible, albeit in a staged rollout.
2: Establish an Implementation Timeline with Expected Performance Measures
Our client's industrial segment held a process efficiency culture but needed more innovation. As a result, anytime top-down improvements were suggested, the rank-and-file avoided implementation by refocusing on the importance of their daily tasks. Since the CEO’s ESG goals did not fit into the ingrained narrative of day-to-day efficiency, the initiative seemed doomed to fail before it got off the ground.
Instead, we advocated for a strict timeline to accomplish incremental steps to achieve the first pillar of the ESG strategy. Further, the CEO articulated her expectations at each step in the process, allowing her to manage her teams’ progress like other efficiency-related metrics. While an outsider might consider this micromanagement, the daily reflection of performance-based metrics was native to their culture and, by coopting the process, ensured overall success.
3: Prepare to Iterate based on Insights from Customer-facing Employees
While the CEO's strategy resonated with the board of directors and senior leadership, making the same connection with rank-and-file employees who heard customer concerns daily was a challenge to the strategy. What good was a five-year plan focused on ESG if customers had bad experiences with the company’s offering?
Some of this discomfort was due to changes behind-the-scenes to improve processes and systems. If customers understood this fact and were included in the company’s new vision messaging, their frustration with short-term operational challenges would be lessened.
The CEO learned an essential lesson that without including customers in the strategic plan implementation journey, their perception of the offering would stay the same, further threatening the long-term success of the company.
A clear plan for attaining business goals is the foundation of implementing a strategic plan. It's vital to communicate this plan to stakeholders in a way that's relevant to them, establish a timeline for implementation with performance measures, and be open to feedback from customer-facing employees. By looking at how an industrial client aims to achieve ESG goals, we can see how important it is to build confidence among staff, take incremental steps, set performance metrics, and involve customers in the implementation process. By following these practices, companies can overcome implementation challenges and reach their desired outcomes.