Four questions that test if your strategic plan will yield intended results.

Most compnies create an annual plan and a corresponding budget this time of year. The obvious intent is to identify the drivers of next years success and alllocate the budget to ensure results. Unfortunately, over 80% of plans don’t generate the intended results. Here are four questions you can ask to see if your organizations’ plan stands a chance of beating the odds.

  1. Focus: Does your plan identify the specific strategy to improve results? This is not a list of things but rather an integrated approach to the market that leverages what you do better or differently than your competition and seeks to increase your advantage even more. Think about it this way. When you go grocery shopping with a menu in mind, you stick to the list and buy just the ingredients needed to create the dish. You get the intended results. But if you go to the store with no list, or a list of many items that sound good but don’t allow you to put a meal on the table, you will find that you will be back at the store again soon, buying more stuff and spending more money in the long run with a haphazard result. Which better describes your approaach? Start with a focused outcome in mind. Then decide what to fund to achieve it.
  2. Clarity: Does every single person in the organization understand the strategic plan, and the role they play to make it happen? Too many organizations fail to detail the specific actions and expectations necessary to implement the plan. After spending exhausting effort creating the plan, leaders don’t always realize that others don’t have their depth of understanding. Two critical steps to every plan are to identify the specific tactical actions necessary (things to start and things to stop) to fulfill the plan and to communicate the specific expectations to every single person expected to implement the plan.
  3. Alignment: Does the initiatives priortized in the plan work together to achieve the strategy? If you created the menu before you went grocey shopping, the answer is probably yes. Alignment, which is everyone working to achieve the same objective, is critical to success. There are a few ways to evaluate the level of alignment in your organization. Do separate projects tend to impact each other? If so, that means there is likely to be synergy. If every department turns in a budget independently, it is unlikely there is alignment as the projects are less interdependent. Alignment moves an organization along toward its goals faster, more effectively and with less total investment.
  4. Accountability: Do you evaluate success based on tangible results? Too often when clients are askd about the organizations’ ability to meet goals, much is said about the efforts and less focus given to the results. Hard work is admirable but doesn’t replace outcomes as a measure of success. An effective plan assigns responsibility for measurable results to individuals who understand what is expected of them.

If you have questions about whether your plan meets these four important tests, get in touch at


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