Execute Rhythm in Six Steps with an Easy-to-Implement Strategic Planning Process

Jun 26 07:23 2009 James D. Murphy Print This Article

In just six steps, you can take your organization from having a loose project timeline to a performance driven framework known as Flawless Execution. Without a disciplined, strategic planning process, tasks are liable to go unfinished and teams are apt to get off track. Reaching the finish line and closing the execution gap comes from a rigorous, yet structured method of Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief.

Many businesses have a strategic planning process that leads to objectives and goals that hopefully,Guest Posting in turn, lead to flawless execution. This process usually equates to some sort of far-off ideal and loose timeline for achievement. Few organizations have Mission Objectives that relate daily, weekly and monthly activities to these objectives and goals. And even fewer businesses have an identifiable common strategic planning process that eventually guarantees flawless execution outcomes. Whether the project is big or small, many organizations routinely place most, if not all, of the responsibilities on one person and hope for the expected results (i.e. flawless execution) at the end of the established timeline. Perfect execution is most probably impossible but even basic execution is doomed to fail without a performance driven framework such as the Flawless Execution(SM) model. Without a displined framework supporting the strategic planning process, many projects are liable to stall as deadlines get pushed back and go unchecked, delaying results, progress, and improvements. But, short of overhauling its entire strategic mission planning process, what can an organization do to create actionable objectives and supplement them with a process that will ensure the desired results of flawless execution at the finish line?

When things go wrong, decision makers are apt to throw their hands up in frustration, due, in part, to the absence of common clarity around the plan. The six steps to mission planning - setting an objective, evaluating threats, identifying resources, considering Lessons Learned, planning courses of action, and establishing contingency backups - leverage the well-known Flawless Execution model and support the strategic planning process. These steps, which should be the engine of any strategic planning process that drive flawless execution, are also useful when addressing 'lack of clarity' around a plan. As a vital, organizationally-driven framework that helps businesses create and maintain action and activity based on established goals, the highly tactical mission planning 'course-of-action' helps organizations find their flawless execution rhythm and empower their ability to succeed in project after project in support of a strategic planning process. If you're ready to improve your business, flawlessly execute and speed up projects more effectively within your own strategic planning process, discover how the tactical planning process is possible - in just six steps!

Step One: Setting a Mission Objective - The first step involved in successful, tactical mission planning is to create a clear, measureable and achievable objective for all team members involved. The Mission Objective must be clear, thus ensuring that all members of the team have the exact same understanding of the requirement and must support the strategic planning process. It must be measureable so that the team will know when they've crossed the finish line as well as how they will quantify successful flawless execution. Finally, the Mission Objective must be achievable; if the team is uncertain of the efficacy or achievability of the objective, this will negatively impact the fervor as the plan is flawlessly executed. Before setting a mission objective, however, understanding how high performance teams organize on the road to flawless execution is a critical portion of tackling failure rates and planning for success. A well organized planning team using Flawless Execution's methods, clearly defined goals, and timelines will prevent the team from passing the buck if the project goes awry.

Step Two: Evaluating Threats - A major step prior to developing "action" is ensuring the team has an appropriate level of concern for the potential threats to project completion, or barriers to flawless execution. Identifying obstacles to the objective that are both internal to the organization as well as in the external market place and then identifying them as controllable or uncontrollable develops the necessary concern. Most businesses' flawless execution failures can be traced back to the omission of this step. If omitted, the execution steps will be put in motion without a full understanding of the challenges that stand in the organization's path to success, resulting in an overall failure of the strategic planning process.

Step Three: Identifying Resources - The next task in the planning process is to evaluate the resources available or required for the team that will lead to success. If more resources are needed to support flawless execution - whether they are brain power, funds, or equipment - this is the time to identify the need.

Step Four: Evaluating Lessons Learned - There is an obvious benefit of learning from team members who have already accomplished previous similar missions. This is why having a culture within the organization of sharing and evaluating Lessons Learned from the most recently completed project can help others down the road. Focusing on Lessons Learned creates and fosters a culture of continued learning and knowledge, enhancing the models, tools, and resources that businesses can provide to workers who are busy creating these achievable mission objectives. Communication is also a vital part of this step in the strategic planning process, because Flawless Execution facilitates success and encourages both failure and success analysis. At this point in the planning process and prior to any more effort, the team can evaluate the "cost" of the mission. In light of the obstacles and resources evaluated, is it still clear, measureable, and achievable and does is support the strategic planning process? If there is any question, stop now, re-evaluate with the organization's leadership, and make a good decision. In other words, fail fast or move forward to flawless execution.

Step Five: Planning Courses of Action - Brainstorm, analyze, and finalize! Gather the best ideas from the team with a full appreciation for the obstacles, resources and applicable Lessons Learned as well as a full understanding of the strategic planning process. Your project is now on its way to flawless execution!. This is also when the project members' best ideas come to light as step five in the planning process is all about individual accountability. It stresses that each person is in charge of his or her particular task and must meet the team deadlines for flawless execution (completion). Accountability, therefore, becomes an important byproduct of the strategic planning process as well as project success - everyone will strive to meet goals, while pushing hard for success, driving personal improvement, and ultimately, flawless execution.

Step Six: Contingency Planning - Now that we have a specific, flawless execution plan, consider what "could" go wrong. What would your team do if the project were derailed? Having a contingency plan to fall back on is a must, and without one, your team is left high and dry and unsure where to go next. If the project gets off schedule, determine with the team what will change because of these possible complications and how another deadline will be established.

Reaching the Finish Line

Achieving flawless execution is challenging, especially when it comes to closing the execution gap. What wasn't introduced in the six steps of the planning process, however, is perhaps the most important part of mission planning - gap meetings. Quick, to the point, and scheduled once every two weeks, gap meetings move projects along at a rapid pace, drive individual accountability, support the strategic planning process and create individual and group discipline. Over time, gap meetings have been shown to have a positive effect - peer groups begin to police and manage themselves in preparation for the next meeting to avoid undue embarrassment from incomplete tasks. Reaching the finish line is all about paying close attention to the details and using the four segments introduced by the Flawless Execution model - Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief. Don't let the gap get wider - close it in just six easy-to-implement steps!

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About Article Author

James D. Murphy
James D. Murphy

James D. Murphy, the founder and CEO of Afterburner, Inc., has a unique, powerful mix of leadership skills in both the military and business worlds. After graduating from the University of Kentucky, Murphy joined the U.S. Air Force where he learned to fly the F-15. He has logged over 1,200 hours as an instructor pilot in the F-15 and has accumulated over 3,200 hours of flight time in other high-performance jet aircraft. Murphy, Afterburner's leadership keynote speaker, has helped top business leaders transform strategy into action, demonstrating how the concepts of the Flawless Execution(SM) model could be applied to business process improvement and engaging the proven model - "Plan. Brief. Execute. Debrief." Through his leadership, Afterburner has landed on Inc. Magazine's "Inc. 500 List" twice.

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