Implementation is Hard! But it needs to be done.

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It’s most easy when it’s all talks and ideas but when it gets down to making sure that the idea not only comes alive, but it is running, it becomes a Herculean task.

We keep hearing news stories and anecdotes about this “successful business” or that “entrepreneur who hit it big time with his business idea”. We find ourselves wanting to know more about how the business became a success, more about what inspired a normal working guy (or girl) to think of a novel and brilliant business idea, and more about how someone can start a business, and make their dreams a reality.

How about those that failed? Or the ones that started good and eventually flopped along the way? What keeps us away from these ones? Why aren’t we attracted to them? They had an idea, they made strategic plans, they spoke to people, they did all “the necessities” but what could have happened?


Implementation is the action that must follow any preliminary thinking in order for something to actually happen. It is the process that turns strategies and plans into actions in order to accomplish strategic objectives and goals.

Implementing your strategic plan is as important, or even more important, than your strategy. Critical actions move a strategic plan from a document that sits on the shelf to actions that drive business growth.

According to Fortune Magazine, nine out of ten organizations fail to implement their strategic plan for many reasons:

  • 60% of organizations don’t link strategy to budgeting
  • 75% of organizations don’t link employee incentives to strategy
  • 86% of business owners and managers spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy
  • 95% of the typical workforce doesn’t understand their organization’s strategy.

Successful implementation involves careful assessment, planning and communication. You also need some key resources to go with it:

People – Do you have enough people to implement the strategies?” and “Do you have the right people in the organization to implement the strategies?”

Resources – Are there more than enough financial and non-financial resources to see the strategy throughout its implementation?

Structure – Organizational structure must be clear-cut. Ensuring an open and clear communication network will facilitate the implementation process.

System – What systems, tools, and capabilities are in place to facilitate the implementation of the strategies? What are their functions?

Culture – This is the organizational culture, or the overall atmosphere within the company, particularly with respect to its members. A culture of being responsible and accountable for one’s actions, with corresponding incentives and sanctions for good and poor performance, will also create an atmosphere where everyone will feel more motivated to contribute to the implementation of strategies.


The truth remains, however: implementing processes is hard. It’s some of the most difficult work that teams do. Some teams struggle with change itself – it pushes people out of their comfort zone and sometimes there is resistance. Even if you can define a new process and make some headway on changing people’s mindsets, there is still the uphill battle for implementing the key processes that turn plans into action.

Management teams can help their employees to implement a process in five simple ways to maximize their implementation efforts:

Implement the process with a clear objective

Begin with the end in mind, start with clear Objective(s) – how you are going to go about it, and what result you are trying to achieve.

Get process input from across the organization

Processes touch almost all teams in an organization, most of the time. So gain input from those teams on how the process might make things easier for them, get them paid faster, etc. Not only do they feel heard, but they are more likely to see the value of the process and become early adopters.

Clear communication of the implementation process

Once a process has been established, it should be clearly communicated. Lead with the value the process will provide to the company and all of the affected teams. Make the steps clear so later the team is comfortable holding each other accountable to following them through.

Drive process adoption

The most successful process implementations have one person who clearly owns it as a priority, and they are in charge of the entire project management of the key components of implementing the process. This needs to be part of your performance management metrics so that you can make sure that your process implementation is having the desired effects.

Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to the process

You will learn things as you begin the execution phase. If any part of the process isn’t working, have an open dialogue and make any necessary adjustments. Processes will only take hold if they truly provide the value as described in your original Objective(s).

In conclusion,

Successful strategy execution involves constantly improving business processes that align with your management system. Don’t stop, keep at it. It’s not a one time thing, it’s a present continuous thing. Do the work.