Planning is Overrated: Execution is Where It’s At

executing your strategic plan, strategic planning, strategic communicationWhat’s more important: a great idea or great execution? There’s certainly an argument to be made for the importance of ideas for entrepreneurs, and it’s easy to point to famous examples of huge fortunes and successful businesses that sprung from a great idea — Facebook, the automobile, the PC, etc.; but the idea is just the beginning.

Many of the companies we are familiar with today weren’t the only — or necessarily even the first — to market with their great ideas. We can see this across multiple markets: social media platforms, automobile companies or PC firms. Regardless of industry, companies need to be able to effectively execute on ideas to overcome their competitors.

There’s a wide funnel from a great idea to a successfully implemented idea. As Glenn Llopis writes for Forbes, “Most great ideas remain dormant because people don’t have the courage, resources, time and/or money to take action. And for those who take action, most are unprepared and thus find themselves spending their valuable time and money on a dream that simply goes astray.”

I work with various organizations on strategic planning initiatives, and I am the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Strategic Planning.” As I work with clients, it’s not at all surprising for them to be very protective of their plan document — even to the point of not wanting to share too broadly (or at all) with employees.

Here’s the thing, though: Who do these companies think is actually going to get the work of the plan (execution) done? In my research and my work with organizations, I consistently find that the greatest challenge companies face is not in developing their plans, but in executing them. I often ask those who are hesitant to communicate their plans with their staff: “If you struggle with execution, what makes you think your competitors are going to be able to take your plan, which is based on your unique situation, and execute it effectively to achieve the results that they’re looking for?”

The lesson here for businesses is two-fold:

  1. Don’t be fooled into thinking a great idea alone will overcome deficiencies in business fundamentals. Execution is crucial.
  1. Whether engaging employees or seeking strategic partnerships, many businesses are more secretive than they need to be about their great ideas. If it were easy to turn an idea into a successful business, wouldn’t everyone do it?

Protect your intellectual capital, yes. But don’t hold your strategies so close that those you need to execute those strategies are left in the dark.


Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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