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What is not a strategic plan?

How many times have we visited a company and seen the strategic plan on the wall? In some form or another it is there collecting dust. I once asked an employee of a company I was working with about the glossy poster on the wall. The reply was;

“I dunno. Something head office did. We just do our thing and ignore that stuff.”

Despite the thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested, if nothing is achieved then people become disillusioned. Rather than the motivating and engaging exercise it was supposed to be, strategic planning can be a dis-motivator.

The strategic plan in that person’s workplace was something on the wall that ticked a box but made no difference.

The poster was not a strategic plan. It was a poster.

What is missing for it to become an actual plan? The plan needs a plan for the execution of the plan.

The central question is not ‘what is a strategic plan?’ The central question for business leaders is what is a strategic plan that has an execution plan attached? Or,

‘What IS a Strategic Execution Plan?’

If we think about a Strategic Execution Plan from the perspective of the Asking Leader, how do we design a series of questions that can create a plan that has clear actions, outcomes and accountabilities?

Assuming we have taken Matt Tice’s advice and used and ‘outside to in perspective’ and created a strategic approach to our future, what are the next questions that the Board and Senior Leadership Team should be asking to create an execution plan?

As Ann-Marie Clark asks, ‘how to we make the main thing, the main thing?’ How do we take the central theme of the strategy and make it the main focus of the business for the future of the plan?

1.    If the main thing is clear, then what are the overarching principles of the main thing?

a.     Why is it important to achieve the main thing?

b.    What do we have to do differently?

c.     How do we have to behave?

d.    Who & where do we have to target?

e.     When do we want to have achieved the main thing?

2.    What are the sub-components of the main thing? As Trudy McDonald says, ‘break it down into themes, or rocks to focus on for each quarter’. Make each quarter a stepping-stone for management on the way to success. Each component can be broken down further into;

a.     Design the weekly, monthly, quarterly & annual meetings to achieve the rocks.

i.    actions, steps

ii.    by when

iii.    owned by whom

3.    Each person in the organisation should have a role in the execution of the plan. Business leaders and boards should be asking about the personal action plan of each member of the team. That personal action plan should circle back to the main thing. What is your part of achieving the main thing?

a.     Why is it important to you?

b.    How do you want to operate differently to achieve the main thing?

c.     How will you change your behaviours to achieve the main thing?

d.    What are the actions, steps, timelines to achieve the main thing?

With these simple sets of questions, we can be on the way to developing a Strategic Execution Plan.

If you want to help your Senior Leadership Team and Board develop a Strategic Execution Plan contact me here on LinkedIn. Or go to Or listen to Stephanie Christopher’s interview on TECLive.

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