Transitioning to Strategy Management

Many organizations dismiss the need to shift from strategic planning to strategic management. Failing to make this transition can interfere with realizing your organizational goals. 

For clarity purposes, let’s review the subtle, but impactful, differences between strategic planning and strategic management. 

Strategic planning is an activity used to define the direction of an organization by setting priorities and making decisions on allocating resources to pursue the common goals as defined in that strategy. In contrast, strategic management is an operational task that focuses on the alignment and oversight of the organizational resources to ensure that the goals and objectives are achieved. 

Failure of an organization to transition from the strategic planning activity to the strategic management task could be a sign of something more serious. A number of factors centering on the leadership team may be preventing this necessary transition, including the following:

  • Discontent, or disagreement, over decisions that have been made with respect to the strategy.

  • Failure to agree on a particular strategic goal or element, leading to lack of required decision-making.

  • Uncertainty about having the necessary organizational resources to bring the strategy to fruition.

  • Concern that the strategy is not realistic and, therefore, will never be met.

Moving forward with implementation of the strategy requires support from the leadership team. This does not necessarily mean that the entire leadership team must agree with every element of that strategy – that is unrealistic. However, collectively, the leadership team must support the overall goals of the strategy for the organization and communicate that support through consistent and ongoing messaging to their business units, teams, staff, and partners. 

After solidifying the strategy at the close of the strategic planning activities, the Strategy Owner (who should represent a single point of contact) develops the strategic management plan, to include the following : 

  • Managing the plan itself and all things strategy, including aspects of the plan that involve competing priorities, resources, and funding. Also key is developing a communication plan, to ensure that the entire organization is kept apprised of the strategy efforts.

  • Establishing SMART goals for the various initiatives, to ensure that the work efforts in support of the strategic goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound.

  • Determining meaningful metrics and measures for each of the initiatives supporting the strategic goals. Each initiative may have a unique metric or key performance indicator.

  • Using the identified metrics and measures to track and monitor the various strategic goals and supporting initiatives and, thus, determine progress.

  • Creating a balanced scorecard or dashboard to help illustrate progress, or lack thereof, on key initiatives.

  • Developing a process to drive the work efforts associated with the strategic initiatives, goals, and, ultimately, the strategic plan. Such a process may include the use of a scope statement or charter, an initiative status-report template, a risk assessment plan and other key artifacts that may be required to ensure consistency, transparency, and oversight in relation to the strategy efforts.

  • Establishing an on-boarding program for any new staff members who will be working on strategic priorities. This program should cover the process, artifacts, communication protocols, and expectations related to the strategic efforts.

  • Developing an off-boarding program to transfer knowledge from outgoing staff who have been working on the strategic priorities.

  • Ongoing coaching and guidance for those staff members working on initiatives that are not meeting the pre-determined metrics.

If your strategic planning activities are not wrapping up as planned, look a little closer – one or more issues may need attention and remediation before the activities can move forward.

Be pro-active in managing your strategy. Don’t let your strategy manage you.