Reaching Strategic Goals

By Nancy Garberson

In today’s organizational climate, with customer’s expectations high,competition fierce and continuous improvement imperative, not only must planning be well-done, but the execution of that plan must be proficiently accomplished. Yet research shows failure to attain strategic goals is prominent. Employee engagement is low, although there are more contributions to the break down. The primary challenges include: The failure of organizations to execute strategies; the lack of strong leadership; and inadequate communication within organizations.


Planning for the future cannot pause; this continuous process must be forward-looking, visionary and achievable. It must be the beginning of continuous improvement of the organization’s crucial processes. This continuous effort must be systematically planned, not losing sight of the day-to-day measures required to run an organization successfully.


Why do organizations consistently fail to execute their strategies, when they spend so much time planning for the effort? There are many opportunities for failure, in fact, even when strategy developers break their plans into chunks of actionable items, they rarely work to organize strategic initiatives and assure that needed resources are applied in a prioritized way.

There are several options of performance gauges and measurement tools available, which can aid in managing the process. Many include detailed guidance that can help keep an organization, and the champions of the strategies, engaged in the process.

Often demands of an organization are not considered when strategic actions are needed to be completed. Executing strategies enables the creation of a guiding coalition that clarifies and communicates the purpose. Long-range intentions must be aligned when day-to-day expectations of the job arise. Strategies must take into account organizational structure, the culture of the entity, and have clear goals and metrics completely aligned to strategy execution. Engagement of each project requires at least one champion with the passion to see the tactics through to the finish. Benefits are realized when practical advice and crucial new resources are utilized. The strategies must be entirely integrated within the organization as expected functions and part of daily expectations.

With the most effective strategic plan, the action items in place and with the best leadership and team, key stakeholders should include ongoing measurement of performance to assure progress is being made toward strategic goals and objectives. Executives must use plans, analysis,meetings, communications and presentations for inspirational motivation. Organizations that use strategic execution effectively eliminate fear,abolish destructive internal competition, have measurable results, and promote leaders who understand the work ethic needed to attain goals.Leaders must be effective in communicating a vision and teaching new behaviors by example, while encouraging and empowering their coworkers to take risks by ridding the organization of obstacles to change.

Effective communication is a key driver for achieving desired results.Knowing how to produce written communications like proposals, executive summaries and motivational emails is more crucial than ever. Written and oral communication skills are both essential to help leaders customize delivery avenues with persuasive messages to keep strategic goals moving forward. Leaders must be prepared for difficult conversations with practical tools and confidence. Effective communicators create effective action.Leaders must be able to organize ideas quickly and communicate them clearly and concisely. Communicating for results means that leaders must apply the knowledge and skills needed to improve communication effectiveness within their organizations and within the execution of strategic initiatives.

Strategic Planning does not end with the publication of a plan; its success depends on it purposefully becoming a never-ending process. The value of strategic planning lies more in the journey, while strategic planning must indeed produce a product’s strategic objectives the primary value comes from the teamwork, the vision and the commitment to and ownership of the organizational success the planners gain during the process of making the decisions and achieving progress.

Calling something a strategic initiative doesn’t make it one. Undeveloped intentions take place in organizations daily. Most strategies seem to stop at the conceptual stage. Once the project is broken into smaller pieces,individuals can actually work away at the task of completing complex strategies. As everyone knows, ideas are easier to talk about than actually accomplish. Eliminating mistakes along the way will ensure the right path to a successful outcome. When effective communication is encouraged,beneficial results have a chance for success. Good, effectual communication provides a framework for creative thinking and valuable dialogue about challenges. The ultimate benefit is the greater likelihood of even more positive results. Success becomes more of a promise versus a hopeful outcome. A fast-paced business environment requires organizations to execute strategies better and more efficiently than in the past.

Failing to consider the full range of variables, requirements and stakeholders involved in strategic plans can limit success or even lead to failure. By taking the time to brainstorm contingencies and possible issues during strategic plan implementation, outcomes have a better chance for survival and ultimate success. Consider all stakeholders that will be affected by the plan implementation, and try to determine what issues may arise for them throughout the process.

Aligning and motivating employees to execute strategy can be difficult, and sustaining the process can be problematic. Not every organization is able to maintain the energy needed to get successful results. Good intentions only take an organization a short distance. Organizations are filled with great starters. Enthusiasm and commitment can seem so exhilarating during the strategic planning session, then the reality of usual work days begin.Procrastination and missed deadlines occur; then the loss of momentum is deadly.

Seventy to ninety percent of business strategies are not implemented, with fifty-five percent of the working population not engaged, and nineteen percent actively disconnected. The execution of key strategies is critical to helping organizations address their challenges. In order for them to leverage core competencies and tactical advantages, they need to be able to develop ways to execute strategies and reach goals, not to mention attend to their marketplace and stakeholder needs. Every organization must be able to recognize and respond to risks and adapt to competitive pressures, just as changes in technology can alter the future and change techniques needed to sustain an enterprise.

Organizations that adopt techniques that can help them stay on-course will give them a better chance to achieve sustainable business results, but only if they remain committed to the process. Each step addressed individually,with the hope of bringing significant incremental benefits.

Nancy Garberson is CEO of Marketing & Communication Strategies, Inc. Learn more about Nancy at blog Rants from the Red Room

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