“Execution is a specific set of behaviors and techniques that companies need to master in order to have competitive advantage. It’s a discipline of its own.”  —Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy

Strategic planning is a front-heavy process, by design. A carefully crafted plan is the end goal. It is important to have a thoughtful plan in place, but even more necessary to act on it. That’s where strategy execution comes in.

As you can see, Brighter Strategies’s strategic planning process, below, ends with execution.  The first seven steps cover plan development and the final piece – the icing on the cake – is comprised of execution, followed by review.

Strategic planning, execution, and review: The process

  1. Understand strategic planning basics, including the history and thought leaders, definition and types, and process for nonprofit organizations.
  2. Lay the groundwork by establishing a strategic planning team and schedule, and conducting a gap analysis.
  3. Craft mission, vision, and values statements, which are the pillars of planning.
  4. Conduct a SPOT analysis to determine your organization’s strengths, problems, opportunities, and threats.
  5. Create goals based on your organization’s value proposition.
  6. Develop a balanced scorecard with measures to track the progress of your goals.
  7. Write and communicate the plan to necessary staff, stakeholders, and community groups.
  8. Execute the plan and review and revise it regularly.

During the next couple of months, we will focus on this last step by describing our blueprint for strategy, and showing you how to apply it in your agency. Plan execution has three components, each of which feeds the others:

  • Programs serve as blueprints for transforming objectives into realities.
  • Procedures are the specific sequence of tasks required to complete programs.
  • Budgets are created to fund programs.

With your plan in hand, use these components to bring a layer of tactical to the strategic: How will your programs help to achieve your strategy? In what specific ways will your procedures “get it done?” By what means will your budgets support the plan?

Many nonprofit leaders stop short of strategy execution after spending much time in the plan development phase because they fail to isolate short-term goals. Brighter Strategies recommends this graphic timeline facilitation guide to help create action. It determines your current state and the steps necessary to reach a desired future-state. Each tool comes with a corresponding guide with step-by-step instructions for using the template.

Our top pick tips for execution success include the following. We recommend you focus on no more than five at once to ensure you maximize your “action efforts.”

  • Isolate actionable elements of the plan.
  • Define organization units to address actionable items.
  • Turn priority issues into program action plans.
  • Develop corporate, department, and individual scorecards.
  • Design and establish a review and accountability system.
  • Gain acceptance of objectives by organization units.
  • Empower those who must execute.
  • Execute tasks and plan.
  • Review and judge results.
  • Reformulate programs.
  • Recognize and reward individuals who achieve.

Our next blog post will show how one nonprofit manager took his strategic plan and made it a reality. In the meantime, if you have any questions about how Brighter Strategies can assist you with strategy planning or execution, please contact us.