Strategic Execution– What 4 things must you do to “make it so”?

The planning process is essential to establishing broad goals, but it doesn’t just start or stop there. Next, you must execute consistently on clearly identified steps that build to the ultimate goals identified in your strategic plan. In the case study below, you’ll see innovative actions that ultimately led to the firm’s success. They include:

  • hiring for potential
  • delivering effective coaching programs
  • empowering employees
  • providing ongoing support

Why does this work? Is pay an incentive? Do we need to control the situation? In my experience the answer in the professional services and science services business is NO! The professional that will have the largest impact on your business wants autonomy, they want to be good at what they do (mastery) and they want recognition. This video by Dan Pink, author of Drive, will destroy your long held beliefs on how to get superior business results.

Here, I relate my own experience of creating this engagement in the professional services industry. A committee was formed and charged with overseeing the Strategic Plan’s execution. To test the notion that staff was on board with the plan and that the collaborative planning approach had achieved buy-in, the committee launched a Growth Initiative Plan employing a novel approach.

An RFP was created asking for growth proposals and it was distributed to every employee in the company. One of the few eligibility rules established was that the proponent had to personally commit to lead the effort. If the plan was to open an office in a new geography, that person had to be willing to move to that location. Proponents, after initial validation, were provided with coaches to increase the chance that the submitted plans would be complete and credible.

Over 15 proposals were submitted by employees which meant over 10% of the employees were engaged– exceeding all expectations. Themes ranged from on-line training programs, software products, new offices, new services and even buying a bottled water company. Five proposals were selected. Over a decade later, all five final initiatives were implemented, were successful and are still functioning today. The company enjoyed over 20% annual growth for more than a decade.

This firm used an innovative approach to executing its strategic plan. They practiced hiring for potential, not just current skills. They empowered staff to put forth their own ideas without restrictions, and once selected, professionally delivered education and coaching programs provided business skill development that exploded levels of energy and enthusiasm. This ongoing support set up initiative leaders for success which reduced fear and risk. This example demonstrates Strategic Execution at its peak.

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