Business leaders need to ensure that planning and implementation is focused. A well thought-out planning and implementation approach considers linking strategy, tactics and operational needs. It includes considerations for key business impact zones (productivity, tools, people and culture) and the outcomes required for solutions to business problems.
Consider the business objectives, the process and the work approach that must be used to successfully achieve results in an organization. Results should be resource-driven beginning with shared thinking and consideration of the challenges that need to be addressed. Call them points of pain. All businesses have them and every business leader knows it.
A checklist would be handy at this point. Consider common business challenges such as issues with focus and direction, trust, communications and collaboration, productivity, effectiveness and efficiency, process and work procedures, outdated equipment and tools, people experience, skills, beliefs, values or even blame-storming. No matter the issue, they all add up to one thing – a negative impact, something a business leader seeks to avoid.
Here are 7 steps to consider when planning for measurable results:
Step 1. Understand your business priorities
What five things are on the strategic agenda of the organization? Why are they so important to the business? In what way can your team make those items happen? If you can answer these questions you are on the path to good business leadership thinking.
Step 2. Identify the challenges
What are the points of pain? What are the key challenges? How are these challenges impacting the business? Can we qualify and quantify the problem? Have we considered the impact to productivity, our tools, people and culture? What are the overall impacts and ripple effects to the organization? Write a clear and concise business problem statement that everyone understands. Share that statement and engage in shared thinking and creative solutions with your people.
Step 3. Determine key solutions
Throughout the process, encourage teams to assist you in solving the business problems. Be careful here, as coming up with ideas on how to solve business problems does not mean implementing solutions. Provide support and insight to people whose natural approach is to roll up their sleeves and jump right in. At this point, as a business leader, you should be seeking thinking and solutions. Only after the ideas have been put forth do you seek to prove their viability.
Step 4. Choose a solution that makes sense
This is where viability comes in. It really comes down to what, why, who, how, when, where, how much and what’s in it for the organization, the benefit, risk and return factor; all the things we learned in grade school and on the playground only with more risk. The best thing is to review situations and possible impacts. Pick three solutions: the do nothing solution, the do something solution or the do something else solution. Think through the issues and make a decision.
Step 5. Implement the solution
It’s not always easy, but it must be done. As the business leader, make sure you have your team together. Establish your approach to deal with people and team dynamics across the organization. Change means push back so be prepared. Be honest about your resource abilities. Invest in their success through investing in your own development. Use a good business coach to avoid future issues. Make it part of the process so your people will embrace it. This is a preemptive approach for solution implementation. Remember, as the leader you do not need to be the sage on stage but be the guide on the side.
Step 6. Measure the results
Ensure that you have put the right items in place to measure the results. This could be at many levels. Answer the simple question: does it work? The answer needs to be a yes or no, not maybe or sort of, eh! Did you get what you expected? How long did it take? Is it over or under budget? Will you see the expected return on investment? If so, over how many years?
Do we have the right people? Have you considered the impact zones and the impact? Does the solution (process, tools, people, etc) align with what is important to the business? The list of questions here is long and depends on what was set as the measurement needs earlier in the planning process.
Step 7. Capture lessons learned
This is an area that business leaders rarely engage in. Yet, it is extremely valuable at all levels in the business. A feedback loop should always exist and the business leader should explore what was learned internally and externally. This is your intellectual property that can be used for future planning and continuous improvement.
In the end, it comes down to following a planning and implementation approach that ties strategy and tactical solutions together. As the business leader your success depends on following a proven approach, engaging your people in the process and building key business skills. Planning for measurable results happens from the ‘get go’.
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