Three Keys to Successful Strategic Execution – Measure, Monitor, and Report
By GRC Solutions, LLC, Strategic Business Advisory.
Strategic execution is an important process in ensuring that a financial institution’s strategic plan is implemented effectively. The implementation and execution of a strategic plan is just as, if not more, important than the development of the plan itself. Even though an institution may have a well-thought-out strategy and vision, failed execution may consequently lead to missing out on current and new opportunities for profitable growth.
“What I found over the years is the most important thing is for a team to come together over a compelling vision, a comprehensive strategy for achieving that vision, and then a relentless implementation plan.” – Alan Mulally
What Makes Up an Effective Strategy?
Once a plan has been developed, with goals and objectives identified, an action plan should be created to implement the plan. It will be necessary for the action plan to include the following important steps:
- Identify the resources needed to accomplish action steps. These could be human, financial, information technology, marketing, etc.
- Assign individual responsibilities to implement key actions identified in the plan. The plan should also assign tasks to specific personnel, as holding people accountable is a critical factor for success.
- Establish timelines and target dates. An effective plan specifies dates for achieving milestones, such as acquiring needed resources and for meeting new goals.
It is important to not be overly ambitious. Successful plans typically focus on three-five goals. Aiming for too many goals at once tends to dilute staff energy and can result in a loss of focus. Once your institution achieves one of the plan’s goals, you can replace it with a new one.
Measure, Monitor, and Report
The need to measure, monitor, and report on the execution of a plan cannot be emphasized enough. Your plan should include a formal status review at least every three months (i.e., every quarter). The purpose of the review is to measure, monitor, and report on the progress of your institution’s plan.
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Sir Winston Churchill
- Measure: Determine your current degree or level of execution. For example, if your strategy requires hiring three people who are experienced within a new market, how many people have you actually hired by the target date? Where do you stand with your marketing plan?
- Monitor: Monitor actual progress against the schedule. Determine whether everyone is on track toward their goals. Depending on your institution’s culture, you might require written reports or schedule regular status meetings. Monitoring ensures that your execution is on track and identifies areas that need additional support or corrective action.
- Report: Report activities to the person or committee responsible for the strategic execution of the plan. Reporting gives management the opportunity to take corrective action, which can include assigning or re-assigning human resources, or even modifying a goal.
“I will never apologize for changing the approach or strategy when the facts change.” – Henry Paulson
Potential Pitfalls: An Example
Institutions that do not regularly measure, monitor, and report on their strategic plan will typically fall behind or fail completely in the execution of such.
For example, an institution realized that it was not serving a significant market within its geographic area and management developed an action plan to expand. The plan required hiring staff who were knowledgeable and experienced in that market. However, due to unexpected events that distracted management’s attention, measuring, monitoring, and reporting on the strategic plan fell by the wayside. As a result, the institution did not hire the human resources it needed and never entered the new market.
Resources for Your Strategic Execution
While there are many books written about strategic planning, several of them do not include recommendations for actually executing such plan. However, one book that is a worthwhile read on this topic is The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals, written by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. In addition, if you need to engage a specialist in strategic planning and/or execution, GRC Solutions has a team of experienced consultants who are available to help your institution develop and implement your strategic execution plan.