Strategy to Execution: 4 Critical Success Factors for Implementing a Plan

In March 2018, KCG Principal, Joe Wechsler, was invited to speak to a class of Master of Health Administration [MHA] students. Over the course of a semester, the class – Health Care Strategic Management – brings students through a mock-strategic planning process, from concept to execution. To date, students had learned the importance of a clear organizational Mission, Vision, and set of Values, and had gone through the process of assessing market conditions, confirming internal/organizational readiness, and developing a list of initiatives to help their mock organization achieve its goals.

What they had yet to consider is what it would take for their plan to be implemented. This is specifically what Wechsler was asked to address.

Too often, we see great strategies and plans fail because of an organization’s inability to effectively implement them. With more than 10 years of experience helping clients bridge the gap between strategy and execution, KCG has observed 4 critical success factors for plan implementation. Wechsler was excited to use these as the framework for his lecture:

1) Identified initiatives should be actionable

  • Each initiative should have a clear, concise objective with at least high-level details on deliverables, timing, metrics/KPI, and resource expectations.
  • Building these details out can take some time, but understanding these components of each initiative is critical to the next step…

2) Initiatives should be prioritized against one other AND current projects/work efforts using a principally-driven methodology

  • It’s easy to be overly optimistic about what you can achieve, so when you’re faced with a big to-do list, what do you prioritize?
  • Before you can prioritize, it is imperative that the decision-making body has established a common set of principles and parameters by which to evaluate each opportunity. Examples may include: impact to margins, time to complete, complexity to implement, etc.  With sound principles in place, you should be able to balance out any conflicts of interest, political sensitivities, or other ‘hidden agendas’.
  • Then, weighing initiatives against agreed upon criteria will distinguish which initiatives are ‘quick-wins’ and which should be considered over a longer-term. Be sure to take your current work efforts/projects into consideration—you may need to reallocate resources toward more valuable work!
  • As a result of this exercise, you should end up with a clear roadmap for how to get the work done.

3) Clearly defined processes and project roles/responsibilities should make it easier for project teams to navigate the organization

  • Your team will have to work with many people. But do they know who they need to talk to? Do they know who can make what decisions? Be explicit on who and what functions or teams they will need to engage with along the way. Clearly define project roles, responsibilities, stakeholders, and what your team will need from each.

4) Your organization should set up a project management process to deliver on the plan

  • Your plan will fail if you do not manage its delivery. An underlying requirement for all of these concepts is the effective deployment of sound project management principles and a culture of accountability.
  • Using a framework that focuses on Accountability, Communication & Execution [ACE™] ensures that your team hits their deadlines and accomplishes what you need. This is as much about driving cultural change as it is about simply designing new processes – everything you put in place needs to consider the idiosyncrasies of your organization.

What other concepts have you observed that are critical to an organization’s implementation capabilities? If you have any questions or would like more examples, please contact Joe Wechsler: jwechsler@knowledgecapitalgroup.com.