Implementation difficulties are common in strategic planning. But why is this happening and what can we do about it? We've identified six very common problems that have made execution difficult in the companies we've worked with, and none of them are intractable. Overcommitment is one of the most common implementation problems in strategic planning. This is because many options seem beneficial and it's easier to accept them all than to force a realistic prioritization of resources.
The problem is simply that no organization has the infinite resources necessary to carry out all the good ideas. By pursuing too many goals, you run the risk of moving too slowly with each of them. If you move too slowly, you may only achieve half of your goals when you can complete a more realistic set of them. In simplified strategic planning, we recommend setting no more than 10 goals, and for many companies, we've suggested having even fewer.
Poorly defined goals are the result of spending too little time setting goals or trying to keep everyone happy with vague goals that are difficult to implement. With ill-defined objectives, you end up unable to identify only the vaguest actions necessary to complete the task. Well-defined objectives are absolutely necessary for good implementation. We recommend setting goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable and with timely results).
Poorly drafted implementation plans are similar, as they are the result of shortcuts in the process of creating action plans. By writing an action plan, you communicate with yourself (in the future) and assign specific resources to implementation activities. If these two steps are not followed with care and specificity, the objectives are usually not met and confusion can result. To create better action plans, use the action planning process that we prescribe in Simplified Strategic Planning.
Poor monitoring is a problem that occurs when implementation activities are not routinely reviewed. It's all too easy to get off course when you don't spend time making sure you follow the path that was carefully traced out. We recommend holding monthly review sessions to review the progress of each action plan and ensure that the whole team knows what you're doing and what you're supposed to do. Distraction is the last most common pitfall, and it's one of the worst.
Many executives (especially CEOs) tend to get distracted thinking about what happened this month or the last article they read that suggests good ideas. What makes many executives successful also wreaks havoc on the implementation of strategic planning. To avoid this, follow your plan. Try to include as many new ideas as possible in your annual strategic planning process, with the understanding that the best ideas will win if they are consistently and persistently executed.
This doesn't mean you should never take advantage of an opportunity that presents itself, but don't let those opportunities take hold of your well-planned intentions. As the leader of your implementation, you can prevent that from happening (and ensure that you start delivering value quickly) by aligning with your business sponsor around the goal that led you to choose Collibra—or any other technology—in the first place. At the end of the Colpound implementation, you should have a fully functioning Colpound instance with access to key functions and some aspects customized to your company.