Implementing plans requires stamina

A good corporate plan is a punchy summary of where an organisation aims to be in five years time, say, and broadly how it is to get there

Essentially, the plan should define the organisation’s business model – how it will conduct its business, be better than its rivals and be harder to copy

Good plans are not long-winded glossies but short statements of broad aims and how they are to be achieved – not prescriptive in every detail – they leave tactics to others

Sadly, most organisations and their managers think corporate plans are a waste of time and effort – an annual ritual conducted by a few senior managers whilst those who have to implement them never know much about them

For successful implementation of any major change, a three-stage process is essential viz:

  • Upfront, good communications to all troops involved about the details of the proposed changes, who and how they will be affected, and the timetable for detailed action – ideally seeking their enthusiastic support

  • A transition phase – stop the old, start the new – people don’t like endings so employees need lots of support in the early days as they meet new problems and sort them out – at the same time, they must let go of old ways of thinking, past relationships or many things once important to them, and see it’s worth their while to do so – and bridges must be burnt to prevent any going back

  • Finally, intensive nursing of the changes is vital – managers must stay close to them in the first few critical weeks whilst they’re bedding in so as to build a momentum of acceptance, if not enthusiasm, as employees see benefits emerging

Successful implementation of any new plan/ major change is thus never the equivalent of a quick sprint around pots in the Solent but more a five-day off-shore yacht race around the Fastnet rock, starting at Cowes and finishing at Plymouth

And winners are those boats which don’t put into the nearest port when the weather gets a bit tough outside – when the wind pumps up and conditions become rough

They keep going – and that requires stamina from most in the crews, not just the skippers

Conclusions:

  • If most organisations put little effort into their corporate plans – assuming they even exist – and then, when major change is required, managers simply leave their employees to ‘get on with it’, it’s no wonder that business lives are getting shorter

  • If the benefits of a major change are expected to persist for many years, any short term pain for a few may be justified by the long term gain for the many – but this would not happen if the change was followed by yet another soon after – big changes should only come in big intervals – even the Fastnet race is held only once every two years

 

 

 

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