Strategy is not simply about a plan. Plans sit on shelves collecting dust. Strategy is a managed process. It starts with Assessment to establish “why” – Why must we change? Then Positioning to focus on “what” – What business are we in? What makes us desirably different? What must we achieve? Next comes Planning to outline “how” – How will we achieve it? At this point you have the why, what and how of your strategy – your strategic framework. But there’s still one more critical phase … Implementation.

The purpose of the Implementation phase is to detail “how will we ensure” – How will we ensure our strategic framework is effectively managed through to completion?

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1. Eliminate the term “strategic planning” from your vocabulary. Why? It’s not about the plan or even creating a plan. It’s about winning. Replace it with “Strategic Management Process”. This conveys that strategy is an ongoing process that you have to manage.

2. At the start of each strategic cycle (ideally about four months prior to the start of your fiscal year), review this model with your Leadership Team. Select a highly capable, consultant to lead you through the design and execution of the four-phase process.

Caution: It is very difficult to effectively facilitate and participate in your own strategic process. That’s why you should hire an expert consultant.

Second Caution: It seems everyone and their Aunt Mildred claims to be a strategic planning expert. Be rigorous in selecting someone with proven expertise in – not just creating a plan – but instituting the structure and discipline of Strategic Management.

3. Recalibrate your strategic framework (the whywhat and how of your strategy) at least once during the fiscal year. If you’re in a fast-changing industry you may need to do this twice a year. Reality changes, so your strategic framework may need to change. Don’t hang on to outdated assumptions and beliefs. Be agile and make adjustments as required.

Finally, be prepared to convene your Leadership Team for a real-time recalibration should something drastic happen.

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