Implementing Brilliant Strategic Plans


So you have spent your summer devising the most brilliant new business strategy, carefully taking into consideration the changes in your sector, the impact of Brexit, the plummeting value of sterling, skills gaps, disruptive new technologies, plus those which could create competitor advantage. You have locked yourself away for painstaking hours and huge dedication to hone and polish you brilliant strategic plan. So why is successful implementation so incredibly difficult, (according to the Gallup Business Journal, only 2.5% of change programmes are fully implemented)?

Superb plans are only the first small step in creating successful and sustainable change, and going it alone without buy-in can be like pushing water uphill – your people will either move heaven and earth to make it happen or will undermine it at every turn. How can you make sure it is the former?

My first observation is that you have locked yourself away instead of involving your team in the planning stage. How much more committed are you to a plan that you helped to formulate, rather than one, (however brilliant), that has been imposed upon you. Human nature is such that we are far more likely to iron out the flaws along the way to make the plan a success rather than highlight the shortcomings if we have personally been involved in its formulation. There is an adage that suggests a mediocre plan, actually executed is better than a perfect plan in limbo, so get your people on board early, ‘perfect’ plans frequently get no further than the planning stage. Consult widely, provide the relevant data and then listen to feedback – be prepared to amend your plans to reflect input – gaining buy-in is more important than a strategically brilliant plan.

Communicate, communicate, communicate: Now let’s think about dissemination: Remember how many blind alleys you went up before you came to your ‘perfect’ strategy? Try not to present the final plan, but take them on the journey, so that they can grasp the logic– remember how long it took you to create the plan, don’t expect everyone else to grasp it a the first airing. Let them question it – this means more heads on the same problem while you are also gaining buy-in and getting people to work out for themselves what their own/their teams imperatives are to deliver the overall objective. It’s also hugely important that everyone knows not only what you are trying to achieve, but also their part is achieving success.

As part of the process, get each team, (cascading through the organisation), to consider their own two or three lead measures, (activities predictive of the lag measures), ensuring that they are SMART. Each team should create their own targets, decide on the relevant lead measures, then log them on their own scoreboard, so that they can quickly and easily see exactly how they are performing at any time. Get them to meet weekly for a brief review of progress, clearing away obstacles for one another and amending activities, (lead measures),as necessary in light of the results being achieved.

Come together more widely on a regular basis to share results more widely, learn from one another and celebrate successes.

A quick checklist for any change project:

  • Involve your people from the start – more perspectives on the issue and gaining early buy-in.
  • Communicate your vision widely, taking them on the journey rather than describing the destination.
  • Invite them to decide how they can best contribute to the overall objective.
  • Measure lead measures & regularly review to calibrate activities as required.
  • Keep communicating
  • Success through iteration: learn from failures and celebrate successes on the way.

Be bold, but focused!


If you would like some practical assistance in implementing change in your organisation give us a call (see top right for number) or drop us a line – we would be delighted to meet for a free of charge, no obligation discussion of your situation and explore how we can help or if appropriate refer you to someone who can



Fran McArthur 1

About the AuthorFran McArthur is a business coach, trainer and no-executive director with more than 30 years of business experience. She typically works with executives, who lead organisations of up to £10m/100 employees and who wish to effect positive change. She collaborates with them to achieve their goals using her practical, common-sense approach