Make a New Years Resolution: Plan & Execute

Too often I find companies that do not connect their planning function with how they execute. Don’t get me wrong many of these companies know how to execute but much of it is tactical reactive execution which does not really advance the strategic direction of the business.

Many businesses go through a planning process but when asked the penetrating question “Is management compensation connected with performance to plan?” The answer ranges from”Not really!” to “We don’t plan well!”

Many owners have commented during the recent recession that planning has had to take a back seat to just surviving. I relate to that. It is not productive to apply precious time and energy to activities if they keep you from staying in business. However, is just surviving enough for your customers? Do they care how tough it is?

When it comes time for them to make strategic decisions on who they want to do business with next year -will they select you? Don’t be nosed out by another business offering an additional advantage to help your customer be competitive?

Planning can take on many forms. Some planning processes are very formal, elaborate and comprehensive. Others can be very spartan and crude. Both can be successful but they must possess a key ingredient – execution. You can create a plan to fulfill a vision to move your business in a strategic direction but without execution it is not worth the paper (or electrons) that it is printed on.

Where do companies fall short on the execution path? Measurement and Accountability

It is imperative for any organization to have regular review cycles where measurement to plan occurs and when necessary adjustments made to modify the plan or address the short fall of key performers. This of course raises the issue of conflict management which many organizations struggle with when key performers (usually very good and valued for their performance on daily tactical issues) resist the challenge of integrating the objectives of the plan into their daily activities.

Successful companies “master” the planning process to the extent that many of their planning objectives are accomplished each review cycle resulting in major shifts in what they do to retain existing customers or attracting new ones, This is not because they have better plans but that they have a leadership team that effectively executes to plan while meeting daily performance operating objectives as well. It is a commitment (led from the top of the organization), not just a halfhearted notion.

Make a New Years resolution to not only plan but to commit to the elements of execution necessary to move your business to a strategic position that will retain your existing customers and be attractive to new prospects.

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