It was that time of the year again when corporate organisations had to meet together with their leaders and team members to reflect, re-think, and plan for the coming years. Some of these plans made in previous years had been accomplished, some abounded, some not followed through and some completely forgotten. Big hairy audacious goals with themes and slogans that ring bells in the ears of people are what have been the order of the day.

The “strategic” fire burns for a short period in the new year with excitement in anticipation of the plans ahead. Where leaders and team members are committed, dedicated to the course, and follow through with their action plans, great results are achieved and all stakeholders reap the benefits thereof. Where the leaders specifically, and team members perceive the strategic planning session as just another activity on the corporate calendar, literally ticking a box, the results are not  a great  story to be told.

What accounts for the difference between the leaders and teams whose plans succeed as opposed to those whose plans fall through the cracks? Is it sheer luck? It is no secret that “the name of the game” of any strategic plan, is execution, execution and execution supported by the right culture. I have gathered a couple of practices that contribute immensely to reaping the benefits of corporate strategy.

  • Believing in the vision and the strategy to realise it. This is evident when leadership demonstrates a positive mindset with regard to the strategy. They speak positively about it and behave in ways that make all team members believe that the goals that have been set are indeed achievable. Goals that are set are deemed to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Time-Bound) and appropriately aligned. It is therefore imperative that the leadership team “walks the talk”.
  • Top leadership and management sponsorship. By top leadership sponsorship, I am referring to backing the set plans with the necessary resources. These resources could be human capital, financial and technical. Underlying these resources must be the right culture that facilitates learning and growth.
  • Get buy-in and involve all key stakeholders. Getting people and especially team members to buy-in to a plan is fundamental to its execution. Key stakeholders must be brought on board early. The deliverables expected must be clearly communicated to all members and empowered to take ownership. A strategy is bound to fail if the team members do not feel motivated by the vision and are not made an integral part of it.
  • Remember the saying “what does not get inspected does not get done”. This does not imply micro-management. It is about check-ins on allocated tasks for feedback and review if required and ensure that plans are on track. This is to avoid surprises. Going to bed after delegation is certainly not a great option.
  •  Giving and receiving feedback.  Feedback is a treasure, shaping both now and the future. Genuine feedback makes a lot of difference. Though it may not always be pleasant, it aids reflection, which can impact the way forward. Likened to the traffic light, feedback points out the good initiatives that are green, requiring continuity; the areas that require improvement (amber); and aspects that require a complete stop. Culprits of anti-feedback may end up like the emperor without clothes. There is a Ghanaian adage that literally says that the one who cuts the grass does not know that his path is crooked, buttressing the importance of feedback.

Planning is critical to every venture and therefore it is essential that we think on paper and make execution a priority.

Amma Ansah

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