This article is the second of an eight-part series to help you break through traditional growth barriers.  Any one of these eight lessons, applied with confidence and persistence, can make a difference.  Collectively, they can drive significant outcomes.   Are you ready to begin a journey of Breakthrough Growth?

Once you have identified what you want the company to become (see last week’s post for more discussion about that), you need an action plan that lays out what must be done to accomplish that strategy. If the strategy defines what goals will be achieved, then the action plan defines how those goals will be achieved.

Shouldn’t you delegate action plans to department heads?

In many companies it is popular to create the strategy and leave each function responsible for delivering it. While individual creativity and accountability is crucial, each department must align with the others to maximize the benefit of what they deliver. The synergy not only yields better results but usually means that the total investment is less.

When individual department heads are left to determine how and when they will work on the strategic initiatives, projects that are important to one department will remain unsupported in another that is needed to carry the project forward. The result? Cost over-runs, projects started but not completed, and competing priorities.

What should an action plan include?

An effective action plan includes:

  • The specific high priority initiatives necessary to achieve the strategy and the projects that will implement each one
  • The metrics to be tracked, those that will show that the organization is on track for each initiative
  • The reallocation of resources to ensure the priorities are funded and staffed
  • The communication plan that identifies who needs to know what and when

The action plan is not separate from operations plans; it IS the operations plan. The bread and butter work of the organization needs to be tied to the strategy, and vice versa, if the strategy is to be achieved.

How do you determine what initiatives are needed?

Initiatives are specific achievements that will bring you to your strategy. Initiatives that support a strategy can fall into these categories:

  • Culture
  • Distribution
  • Marketing/Branding
  • Sales
  • Product
  • Operations
  • Technology
  • Acquisition

Think about what needs to be transformed in each of those categories to achieve the strategic vision.  Those changes are the initiatives that must be built into the operations plan. Here are some examples:

  • Increase brand awareness among targeted customers
  • Develop a customer database to enable targeting programs to specific customer tiers
  • Increase employee communication and interaction to inspire a team-oriented culture
  • Become the top U.S. distributor for the top five core lines
  • Develop an effective product development process to contribute to increased product sales per SKU

In the next part of this series, we will look more deeply at how you can create your action plan.

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