Last time we discussed the types of obstacles that typically emerge during the execution part of strategic planning efforts. The easy part is to develop strategies for any business because everyone is playing nice and thinking about the future, usually in a series of meetings led by the boss or a consultant he or she has hired. The problems begin when the initiatives or action plans that have been generated begin to be executed.
To review briefly, the obstacles that emerge during this execution phase of the plan come from either internal or external sources. Internal obstacles can usually be traced back to:
- Organizational alignment problems,
- Lack of awareness,
- Pissing contests between managers or departments,
- Aversion to change, or
- Individuals affected by the plan not being consulted.
On the other hand External obstacles in many cases are out of the control of the company, they include:
- Driving Forces that unexpectedly change, such as Social, Technology, Economic changes
- Predetermined Elements that change, like Demographics, Obligations or Deadlines
- Customers – changes to contracts, expectations, timelines or commitments
- Markets – unexpected decline or growth in market dynamics
- Competitors – new products or services that disrupt markets and customers
How to Identify Obstacles Early
The ability to identify the types of obstacles that will derail a plan is a best practice of successful and growing companies. As a part of any company’s strategic planning process, it should be a priority to understand where obstacles come from, identify them early and do what you can to remove them.
Here are a few tips to identify obstacles early in the planning and execution process:
Answer the following questions:
- During the planning process have we asked everyone likely to be affected by the action plans what they think about the plan and what changes they would suggest?
- Are we aware of conflicts between managers or departments that have derailed plans in the past?
- If so, what have we done to remedy the situation this time?
- Who would be fearful of this plan internally?
- What external forces could cause problems for this plan?
- Do we know what our competitors’ plans are for the future and how they might affect our own plan?
- Where is the market going?
- Where are the customers going?
- Where is the technology going?
- Is the president or owner(s) of the business 100% in back of the plan and its execution?
Answering these types of questions will help to identify obstacles that will likely get in the way of executing your plan. Of course, correcting the problems that these questions reveal will probably require considerable time and effort, but it will be worth it in the long run. Your plan will be a better one and the results your business generates will be much stronger and more sustainable.
Next week I’ll cover the tools and techniques you can use to identify and remove these types of obstacles and develop a better plan.
Charlie Alter owns Bentbrook Advisors LLC based in Sylvania, Ohio. He specializes in Growth Strategy, Innovation and Coaching and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org visit http://bentbrookadvisors.com/ for more information on his business advisory practice.