Back to Work Special
Part 2 of 5
How to Craft a Winning Strategy and Devise a Successful Operational Plan
In the last year, most if not all organisations have experienced drastic changes that have severely impacted their business direction and way of working.
As staff return to work, it is highly likely that new challenges and changes will continue to pop up. To keep up with this ever-changing ‘new normal’, it’s important to make sure that your strategy and operational plans are still relevant; if they aren’t, they may need tweaking or possibly even re-designing.
However, 90% of organisations fail to execute their strategic plans, with many not even realising the difference between strategies and organisational plans...
Strategies and Operational Plans: What’s the Difference?
As the saying goes, “failing to prepare means preparing to fail”. Crafting strategies and devising operational plans are both vital puzzle pieces of an organisation’s success. However, many organisations use ‘strategic planning’ and ‘operational planning’ interchangeably when actually, they are two separate concepts.
Strategies are used to describe organisations’ long term plans. Typically, they outline the mission, vision, values and overarching goals for the next 3-5 years.
Put simply, operational plans detail how you plan to implement the strategy on a departmental level. Operational plans usually span 12-18 months, and lay out the daily or weekly tasks that need to be completed in order to move towards achieving the goals laid out in the strategy.
3 Key Differences to Remember
- Time Period - Strategies typically span over a much longer period of time than operational plans
- Goal Focus - Strategies tend to focus on the organisation as a whole rather where as operational plans tend to focus on individual departments
- Aim - Strategies aim to make your organisation different from others (USPs), operational plans aim to make your organisation operationally better than others.
What Does a Typical Strategy and Operational Plan Design and Implementation Process Look Like?
How to Craft a Winning Strategy
Almost anyone can write a strategy; but the secret to getting ahead of your competition is using a variety of tools, skills and knowledge to carefully craft a winning strategy.
A recent article by Vistage explores ‘10 steps to building a killer business strategy you can execute flawlessly’:
- Develop a true vision - what do you want your company to be in the future?
- Define competitive advantage - what do you have/offer that your competitors don’t?
- Define your targets - what exactly do you want to achieve?
- Focus on systematic growth - what are your aims for the growth of your company?
- Make fact-based decisions - what data and facts can you use to inform your decision-making?
- Think long term - where do you want your organisation to be in 1 year? In 3 years? In 5?
- Be nimble - whilst you should be thinking long term, how can you ensure your organisation remains agile?
- Be inclusive - what different people’s backgrounds, experiences and expertise can you draw on?
- Invest time in pre-work - what should you do to prepare for the announcement of your new strategy?
- Measure your results and execute excellently - how will you know if you have successfully implemented your strategy?
To read the full article, please click here.
How to Devise a Successful Operational Plan
Now that you have a winning strategy, it’s time to translate this into an operational plan; “A goal without a plan is just a dream”. Creating a successful, actionable operational plan is the key to ensuring that your strategy becomes a reality doesn’t fall flat like 90% of other organisations’ strategies do.
Here are 3 simple steps you can take to devise a successful operational plan:
1. Identify Your Priorities and Align/Focus Your Team
Which aspects of your strategy need to be done first? Identifying priorities and making sure all employees understand your strategy and why it's important is crucial to gaining buy-in and helping make the strategy a reality. A great way to understand the importance of alignment is to think about it like rowing a boat - no matter how hard your staff row (work), if they are rowing in the opposite direction then the boat (your organisation) won’t get anywhere.
2. Set SMART Objectives
Based on the priorities you have identified, you can now set short/mid term departmental, team and individual SMART objectives. These objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed.
3. Cascade These Objectives
One of the most popular goal-setting theories, even used by Google, is OKRs. Put simply, OKRs ensure all employees are working towards the same goal by clearly outlining objectives and key results. You can click here to read our more in-depth article about how to implement OKRs for yourself, in your team, or in your organisation.
Struggling to Craft Strategies and Operational Plans?
Crafting winning strategies and successful operational plans can be extremely difficult if you, or your managers, have never had any professional management training.
Our Leadership and Management Apprenticeships cover all of the key aspects of creating a strategy and operational planning to help your organisation thrive in the ‘new normal’ as staff return to work.
If this is something you would be interested in, you can download our Level 3 Leadership and Management Apprenticeship brochure below.
Up next on The Daily Dot, we will be exploring the key role that project management plays in turning strategies and operational plans into reality. In this article, we will also be providing you with a fantastic ‘Project Management for Leaders Cheatsheet’!
Until next time...