Strategy + Operations = Execution

entrepreneurs entrepreneurshipTo have a strategy is one thing, to do something with it is something entirely different. My Emerging Leaders Class at the Small Business Administration just completed their 7 month course for entrepreneurs and I’m happy to say all 16 participants graduated with an executable strategy.

Now comes the hard part, the implementation or execution. Because of the way these plans were created all the graduates have a good shot at making them happen. The reason I believe they are likely to succeed is because the plans are based on 5 key components that I outline in Chapter 9 of my book. (Free download of chapter here). The components are:

  1. Realistic Vision
  2. Strategic Objectives (Big Rocks)
  3. SMART Goals for each of the Strategic Objectives
  4. Each of the SMART Goals has a person or team assigned as owner
  5. The financial impact and measurement of each is defined

The Vision is the fun part, the execution – not so much – which is why some strategic plans never see the light of day. The company spends a ton of time and energy developing the plan, then “crickets” – nothing happens. So my philosophy is to make them easy and understandable and VERY executable.

Step one is to create the vision of where you want the company to be in 3 years. Next identify the gaps. What are the biggest gaps between where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow? Once you have Big Rocks or Strategic Objectives, you can craft a couple of specific goals (3-5) for each of them, assign an owner and figure out by when they will be complete and how to measure success.

What the entrepreneurs find is that once they have identified where they keep getting hung up and thus preventing growth, they are easily able to identify what needs to change or a strategy to bridge the gap. What happened with last year’s class, and is also happening with this year’s, is that once they determined the right strategic objective, execution seemed almost easy. They end up accomplishing the list of goals much, much sooner than they thought they would because they’ve identified the right gap and the right approach.

Next time you think about creating a strategic plan, think about it tactically as well. The execution of the right plan is the most important thing. Getting things done versus talking about them will make the most difference to your bottom line. Don’t make big overarching visions which lead to strategic objectives and goals that are unrealistic, even if you have all the resources. Craft the vision so that it is a stretch, but doable. Your team will have more faith in helping you achieve it if they can see a clear path. Your job is to be “the brush-clearer” and help remove obstacles so the path is laid out in front of your team.

Once the path is clear, execution accelerates and magic happens. If the plan is not workable, execution stalls and it stays on the shelf, or in the binder, and you get what you already have instead of the next level of growth and success.