Strategic Implementation Steps


There are countless books and papers on the subject of strategic planning. The best strategy in the world, however, becomes pointless if it is not implemented properly. Although every organization and every plan is different, there are some common factors that must be accounted for and steps that must be followed by management in order to align the organizational system with the strategic mission.

Defining Tasks and Activities

Before actual implementation can begin, key implementation tasks and activities must be defined in detail. An improperly formulated strategic decision can fail even if the strategy itself is good and even if no effort is spared in its implementation. There is a fine balance that must be achieved on the level of detail, as a plan that is too vague will not provide useful guidance, while a plan that is too detailed may lack flexibility.

Securing the Required Resources

Once key tasks have been identified, the resources required for their execution must be identified and secured. Money is an important resource, but by no means the only one. The implementation of projects may also fail because of a lack of manpower or technical expertise. If appropriate resources cannot be secured and developed -- for example, by providing training in the required skills -- the plan must be redefined or its scope limited.

Seeking Participation and Commitment

The success of any plan is likely to be limited if the involved personnel is not committed to the project. Managers and employees should be involved from the start in the strategy formulation process, not only in order to develop a sense of ownership but also for the importance of their insights. Plans formulated by top management are almost always guaranteed to have major flaws if employees and affected groups do not provide a reality check based on their knowledge of the organization's day-to-day operations.

Creating Communication Structures

Closely related but not equal to commitment-building, the creation of two-way communication channels must form part of the implementation strategy from the beginning. In the early stages of the project it will allow the affected employees to provide their input about the formulated strategy and its potential issues. In later stages of the implementation those channels will ensure that unforeseen problems are communicated to top management in time to act and adapt the plans.

Assigning Roles and Responsibilities

Most successful implementations are propelled forward by a formally appointed champion who will provide both leadership and accountability. Roles and responsibilities are often assigned in a framework of projects and programs, with long-term, open-ended programs providing a bridge between strategy and concrete projects. For strategies where disruptive change is required, strategic teams are often formed outside of the existing structures and hierarchies, as management and personnel used to the current way of doing business may have some reticence to alter the status quo.

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  • "Journal of Management Studies"; Implementing Strategic Missions; Jeffrey Covin, et al.; July 1994
  • "Long Range Planning"; Successfully Implementing Strategic Decisions; Larry D. Alexander, et al.; June 1985
  • "International Journal of Project Management"; Implementing Strategic Change Through Projects; William McElroy; February 1999
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