Have you ever been so excited about an idea that you couldn’t wait to get started? It’s okay – we’ve been there too. Whether it’s a big or small change, it’s hard to focus on much else besides the future success of your vision. But slowing down and taking the time to consider the route from strategy to action first can help to give you a clear plan to follow and ensure everyone involved stays on track.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s totally natural to want to reach your goal as quickly as possible. But skipping over your plan of action can lead to wasted energy and time, as well as a disappointing end result: research has found that a poor strategy brings only 63% of the financial performance initially promised.
Do I really need a strategy?
A good strategy is vital to any successful project. Without a good strategy, your talented team will be wandering around like headless chickens, not having a clue about what they’re supposed to be doing and what you expect from them! A well thought out strategy will give your project clear, achievable targets and make sure your company’s resources are used efficiently.
Some common claims when it comes to a new project are “I already know what I’m doing” or “I don’t have time for planning”. In these situations, it helps to imagine you’re going into a marathon. Would you run 26 miles without any training, provisions or mental preparation? Probably not, and if you did, it’s likely you’d have to eventually give up or turn back at some point.
Coming up with a strategy is your preparation – moving from strategy to action is your marathon. By outlining all the stages you need to move through to reach your goal, you’ll avoid the (inevitable!) stupid mistakes that tend to come with blustering ahead, and you won’t have to suddenly turn back halfway through.
Okay, I get it. But where do I even start?
The word “strategy” can seem like… a lot of work. We know. But putting together a basic strategy first will help you to break down the tasks at hand into small, manageable activities.
To move from strategy to action successfully, here are a few simple steps:
Answer your own questions
What does your idea involve? Why is it needed? Who needs to be involved? These are all questions you’ll need to answer before you start work. Not having a clear vision will lead to confusion when you put your strategy into action, and a little bit of extra thought at this early stage will ensure you have the right people involved. Try and get as many facts as possible, and be wary of validating your own opinions.
Avoid the jargon!
Business jargon might sound impressive in the boardroom, but misunderstandings lead to poor communication which leads to – you guessed it, project failure. It’s predicted that bad communication leads to project failure about 50% of the time, and can wipe off around 5.2% of a strategy’s potential value.
To move from strategy to action smoothly, avoid overly long descriptions of future goals and instead focus on clear, concise points that describe the necessary action. Simplifying your language will help to prevent these communication mishaps, and it’ll also help everyone involved take ownership of their task and understand how they’re playing a part in the project’s success. Win-win!
Make your strategy realistic
If you’ve ever created a strategy and then never looked at it again, it probably wasn’t a great strategy. An unrealistic strategy will set the expectation that the project probably won’t be completed, so start off on the right foot by making your strategy as “real” as possible!
Once you’ve got a basic strategy in place, you can break it down into projects in order of importance, then into actions and individual tasks. These actions should have defined accountabilities and timetables so you can ensure each team is on the right track. To give you maximum visibility of the project include key performance indicators in these actions. Which bring us nicely to…
Measure what matters!
Moving from strategy to action might seem simple at first, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to lose focus after a couple of months. With different teams working at different paces, presenting a clear idea of where you’re at to top-level stakeholders quickly becomes impossible – unless you have metrics!
Key performance indicators will help you to assess the current performance of everyone involved, determine whether you need to make any changes and measure whether an objective has been achieved. KPIs give both you and your employees a tangible result to aim for, and prevents accountabilities becoming blurred.
Assign a project manager
One of the biggest reasons why projects falter is because of a failure to assign someone who’s dedicated to keeping it on track. An effective project manager will help to keep the project on time, on budget and with minimal business disruption, moving your project from strategy to action to success!
Good project management will ensure that necessary resources are assigned in priority order, rather than who asks first, to stop delays. They’ll also be responsible for continually analysing progress, assumptions and competitors, to revise the scope of your project when it’s necessary. They’re there to get you over the finish line, so make them a key consideration before you move from strategy to action.
Create a smooth strategy to action plan with Infinity Loop
It’s a brand new year and it’s time for a brand new way to think about your business!
At Infinity Loop Consulting, we’ve been in your shoes. As a group of experienced entrepreneurs, leaders and senior managers, we understand the day-to-day challenges of running a business and how hard it can be to implement changes. That’s why we’re focused on delivering results, not just recommendations.
Transform your business, one step at a time. Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help.