My wife tells me all the time, “nice idea, but how are you going to make it work?” Great ideas are useless if they can’t be put into action, and converting ideas into action is a process similar to transitioning from strategy to outcomes.
If a corporate strategy is developed properly, the process of transitioning to an effective (and achievable) operational plan does not have to be difficult, yet we are surrounded by examples of failed corporate strategies that suggest otherwise. Wal-Mart failed to expand into the German market on account of restrictions around land-use, store hours and strong retail unions. Sears strategy to enter the real estate and insurance markets failed by straying too far from its primary markets of tool and appliances for the home.
In transitioning from strategy to tactics, it is important to consider the following questions:
1. What are the specific steps or actions required to deliver the strategy?
2. Who is responsible for the completion of each action?
3. When will the action be completed by?
This is coined the “what, by who, by when” action process.
This process is common, however the consistency and rigor with which it is applied is often weak, producing delayed outcomes and less than desirable results. Guess where the blame is directed in these circumstances? Typically back to the strategy itself.
Here are some recommendations we provide our clients on how they can make the most of the “what, by who, by when” action process.
1. Those who are responsible to complete the action should have input into its creation.
2. Responsibility must be clearly defined, preferably with only one name accountable.
3. There is no excuse for a missed completion date.
Implementing a strategic plan is not a matter of resources, but of priority. Giving priority to applying the “what, by who, by when” action process will provide the momentum and results to deliver on your strategy.