Development of plans to operationalize strategic initiatives, along with execution of these plans and frontline processes form the last-mile logistics for a company’s path to sustainable growth.
Whichever sport we watch, irrespective of the efforts that go into sponsorship searches, player-trading, system development, and training, winning or losing comes down to game day performances. Companies should give operational planning and execution the same relevance.
However, rapid-growth companies often circumvent operational plans for major initiatives and process designs for frontline operations in favor of deploying investment briskly. This approach is ineffective as small- and mid-sized companies are unlikely to maintain growth without effective planning and execution of day-to-day activities. Both strategic initiatives and frontline operations require rigorous preparatory work to be effective.
- Fast-growing, small- and mid-sized companies will have to improve their analytical cultural maturity and operational productivity significantly each period to maintain growth. How will strategic initiatives, owned and managed by employees who have very little average tenure working with each other, achieve strong collective outcomes unless the details are well-articulated and communicated?
- Improvements in frontline processes should be a lot more frequent at rapid-growth companies. How will frontline employees, especially in environments with a high ratio of new or low-tenure staff, keep up with operational changes without a strong process culture to set clear expectations on day-to-day activities?
For these reasons, the tail-end of strategic planning must be dominated by development of operational plans for all prioritized strategic initiatives. Articulation of these plans – covering both execution phase and steady state – followed by flawless execution dictate most of the work done by Overhead ‘Fixed’ Resources. It is a prerequisite to ensure strategic initiatives targeted at improving organizational maturity and productivity are effective. The resulting productivity improvements, which need to be then reflected in process designs, permit Frontline ‘Variable’ Resources to execute operational processes at the desired performance levels to meet overall company goals.
No amount of leadership, analytical culture, strategy development, and strategic planning can replace operational planning and execution. An Operational plan is the equivalent of a game plan that is tailored for a specific opponent and game day conditions. It has to be tailored for the initiative at hand, include contingency scenarios, and articulate what steady state looks like. To execute flawlessly on that plan, an organization requires system-wide discipline and skills to execute on the plan.
Four core principles that form the basis of operational planning and execution. However, operationalization and flawless execution requires a company to effectively enable and embrace all four of the other components of the Growth Framework as well.
The Steady State: Success and failure of strategic initiatives and operational processes are validated by maintenance of desired performance during steady state.
Implementation of Strategic Initiatives: Disciplined, skillful execution and management of initiatives is a prerequisite to drive towards company goals.
Flawless Execution of Processes: A strong process culture will necessitate Frontline ‘Variable’ Resources to embrace operational improvements from strategic initiatives.