Let's Get It Done! Effectively Implementing & Executing Plans and Initiatives
Have you ever spent days putting together a strategic plan, or planning a significant change in the organization, and when you are done, for a few minutes, you revel in the thought that WOW, I’m done! I’ve finished the plan! Then a minute later the sense of euphoria is replaced by the panic of realizing that you are indeed not done, but rather just beginning. You have to make it happen! If you have ever experienced this, you are not alone.
Experts tell us that execution is the great unaddressed issue in the business world today. Being able to get things done is one of the factors that separate industry leaders from their competition. Poor execution is the underlying cause of many business disappointments. The greatest plans in the world don’t do us any good if they aren’t implemented effectively.
When we are bringing a plan to life it means something is changing:
- Something we have been doing is going away
- Something that we haven’t been doing is going to start
- Something will be done in a different way
We need to understand that change brings:
No matter how good the new plan, there will still be some level of fear and resistance from people expected to actually bring the plan to life, unless you are as careful with the execution as you were with developing the plan.
I’ve spent a good deal of time talking with people who have been successful at bringing new ideas to life and, based on their experience, I offer the following suggestions for successful execution:
1. Know where you want to go
- What does the desired future look like?
- How is it different from what you are doing today?
- Explain the change in concrete terms
2. Know why you want to go there
- The reason should be compelling
- People should be able to see the connection between executing the plan and organizational goals, mission, vision and values
3. Know where you are
- You need to do a brutally honest assessment of your current situation
- Know your organization
- It’s strengths and weaknesses
- How things operate
- What standards are used to measure progress and success
- How it communicates internally and externally
4. Know what limitations/restrictions you face
- Resources: What is readily available and what can be secured?
- Time line: What other initiatives must be considered when setting a time line for this project?
- Political realities: These are real and to ignore them can be fatal.
- Reasonableness: Be able to harness your enthusiasm and fight the urge to try to do everything all at once
5. Know what it will take to get you where you want to go
- Get input from others who may have different perspectives than yours
- Determine the minimum you will accept and desired levels you want to achieve
- Plan in detail, execute on the fly
- You should have a detailed list of all the steps required to implement your plan, along with reason able time lines, individual assigned responsibilities, and other details.
- Recognize that nearly nothing will go exactly as planned. However, going through the exercise of identifying all the details will allow you to make adjustments more easily.
6. GET STARTED!
- There is never a perfect time to begin executing a new plan. Something can always get in the way. So take that leap of faith and move ahead.
7. Evaluate progress
- Set a schedule for reviewing the implantation and know what should be accomplished by each check in date
- Determine reasons for variance from the schedule and determine if the future schedule should be modified
I will close with an Italian Proverb I think accurately captures the difficulty of moving from planning to doing. Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.
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