Implementation is the hard part!

You pulled your team together, you researched, you brainstormed ideas, you did a SWOT analysis and now you have your shiny strategic plan.  You’ve done the hard part, right?

Wrong!  The hard part is just beginning.  Studies have shown ( that 90% of companies that have strategic plans achieve 50% or less of their plan initiatives.  A full 98% of leaders believe implementation is harder than strategy development.  My work with advisors has shown this to be true…strategy development is hard, but implementation is the real trick.

History has taught me that firms that practice these ten things are much more likely to achieve their goals and stick to their strategic plan:

  1. You must have the right team in place – if you think this might not be the case, stop right here.  You need to correct this before you move on.  No amount of great strategy or implementation planning can overcome this issue.  Get your A Players in place first and then come back.
  2. Get FULL buy in from everyone on your team – this does not mean that everyone needs to be involved in the full strategy formulation.  There will be large parts that will require the senior leadership team only.  However, if your staff do not feel like they are invested in the process in some way, how can you expect them to get excited about it?  You are asking them, in most cases, to do work in addition to their already packed day-to-day tasks.  Make sure they understand how the initiatives they are working on will impact them…more efficiencies, more revenue, greater income, etc.
  3. Prioritize! – having too many initiatives is a surefire way to kill a strategic plan.  Break them down by quarter, keeping each quarter to a reasonable number – 1 large initiative per person or team or 2 smaller initiatives per person or team.  If you have other goals you want to accomplish, drop them into a “big idea file” and consider them for later quarters. Get used to putting ideas in the big idea file and you will never lose them.  They will be safely stored for consideration later.
  4. Appoint a “Strategy Engineer” – this is what we do for our clients or we work closely with the COO to help them do it.  This person has, among their other duties, the job of making sure the plan is being implemented.
  5. Have monthly strategy check in meetings – how is everyone coming with their assigned initiatives?  What hurdles might be standing in the way? What additional resources might be added?  Is the initiative still relevant?  This is the job of your Strategy Engineer.
  6. Use project management software – your day-to-day tasks belong in your CRM, but your strategic plan deserves a home of its own. We use Teamwork ( and love it. We set up a project for each of our clients and keep their initiatives in there.  We then give access to all team members so they can check it at any time. We tell our clients they can use it or not, but this is what we will use to keep everyone on course.
  7. Use KPI’s – measure, measure, measure. We have a list of KPI’s we use with our clients so we can make sure we are measuring the appropriate things. This lets us know if we are on or off course.  What gets measured gets done.
  8. Hook achievement of initiatives to incentive compensation – make the completion of initiatives one of the measurements in determining incentive compensation for your staff. We have helped many advisors set up these plans in their firms and they work really well at aligning compensation and the goals of the firm.
  9. Senior Management must lead by example – if you don’t get excited about it, why will anyone else?  Create a 30,000-foot view picture or better yet, a one-page plan to distribute to the team.  Have a meeting right after the plan has been written to get everyone excited about the hard work you’ve just done.  
  10. Celebrate your successes!  Far too many times, I see firms that just focus on what didn’t work.  This is demoralizing and saps your energy.  Celebrate successes as they come along. 

One last thought, only 28% of Advisors have a strategic plan. This statistic disturbs me most of all because it tells me that 72% of you are running your firm “by the seat of your pants” and if I had to guess, I’d say the firm is running you.  Take control of your destiny and create a “map” to get where YOU want to go.  Give us a call today to find out how we assist great advisory firms in this process.

Thanks for listening, Ginny