Strategic implementation Q&A

Gabrielle Lis

How to take the long view and get where you want to go, faster.
Q: What is strategic planning?

A: Strategic planning refers to a process of creating and arranging your resources to achieve long-term objectives.

Q: Why should I develop a strategy?

A: Identifying and articulating a strategy allows everyone to talk through the aims and agree on objectives.  The process of talking through and coming to agreement engages people along the way, and if people are involved the strategy is more likely to be successful.

Q: How are strategies developed?

A: Developing a strategy requires analysing needs, working out how to achieve success, and then working out a plan of attack. There is often a much greater focus on developing a strategy than implementing the strategy.

Q: So where do I begin?

A: The first step is to get a good picture of the current situation. Collecting data and understanding the status quo can be difficult and take time. Nevertheless being clear about the problems the organisation has is the foundation for developing a strategy. Get the right information, including hard case and claims data, and talk to people to understand where the organisation’s problems lie. Benchmarking tools can be useful; these can be simple or complicated but it’s important to get input from all the relevant players.

Q: Can I do it alone?

A: You might be happy to develop an outline of a strategy by yourself. However, it is a good idea to convene a group of people who will be key players, and involve them in the strategic planning. Get the input on key elements of the strategy, and modify your approach accordingly. It is also important to present the strategy to key opinion leaders, including senior management.  Get their buy-in before attempting to implement anything.

Q: How do I implement the strategy?

A: Good question! The most important aspect of strategic management is implementation. No matter how good your plan is, it is a waste of time if it’s not effectively implemented. Implementation involves giving people reasons to come on board, rather than simply telling them to do so. It may involve providing written material, and identifying opportunities for improvement. Telling people what's in it for them - for example improved productivity, reduced costs, less hassle, less workload - also assists with implementation. You also want to make sure that procedures are documented, and available and used.

Q: Should I start big or small?

A: Implementation often works well if it can be done in a small area successfully, and then built on. But this doesn't mean that you shouldn't dream big! Create a vision for those around you. Let them know the value of implementing your plan and how the company will benefit when the plan is effectively implemented.

Q: Once the strategy is implemented I can relax, right?

A: Not quite. You should review after a month and again after three months. People need reminding and reinforcement. The plan should be like a living organism. Come back to it repeatedly, and assess your progress. Good things often take time, and you shouldn’t be disheartened if your first endeavours are not successful. Be committed and express your commitment consistently.