Strategy Deployment Success Process

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John W. Moran

“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin

More than 50 percent of executives say that they’re unhappy with their strategic planning process right now. So while they think strategic planning is necessary, they don’t fully realize the benefits they were hoping to attain from it.” Another study of 163 CEOs by Forbes Insights found that nearly a third of all business strategies never reach their mark. Of these failures, they also pinpointed the following five reasons why they did not work:

  • Unforeseen external circumstances (24%).
  • Lack of understanding among those involved in developing the strategy and what they need to do to make it successful (19%).
  • The strategy itself is flawed (18%).
  • Poor match between the strategy and the core competencies of the organization (16%).
  • Lack of accountability or of holding the team responsible (13%).


We have all worked in organizations where the yearly ritual of strategic planning was a 2-3 day off -site facilitated meeting in which the room was filled with many grandiose ideas of the future on flip chart paper, then the many ideas were narrowed down to the vital few which were typed up, put in binders, distributed to all attendees they placed them on their shelves. Why are we surprised nothing happened? There was no accountability or actionability built into the plan. When there is no accountability, no one feels compelled to do anything especially when there is no follow up. Then, the next year, we go through the process again and vow to do better.

Through experience I have found that there are four fundamental ingredients that help facilitate a deployable strategic plan successfully.  They are:

  • Leadership Involvement – leadership needs to be fully involved in the process, show commitment to making the strategic plan a success, and build in accountability at all levels of the organization in order to build ownership.
  • Employee Involvement – it is important to get input from the employees prior to the strategic planning session so they feel a sense of ownership which will help in the deployment.
  • Communications – need to be short, consistent, and clear about the strategic plan and how it will be deployed throughout the organization.
  • Implementable – the strategic plan needs to be one that is realistic and attainable.

The best time to use this process is while working on your next annual strategic planning process, use the Strategy Deployment Success Process to visualize where your organization currently fills or fails within the four parts of the system. This will give you an idea of where you are starting from and what corrections and improvements may need to be addressed before embarking on the next strategic planning session.

The Process

Picture the four-part process as a series of containers that need to be filled from the bottom up. Each ‘container’ (forming a part of the process) needs to be kept ‘full’ – or you’ll slip back a stage. 

Goal Progression

First, determine the level of Leadership Involvement that currently exists as you prepare to go into the next strategic planning session. If leadership is not yet fully engaged then, it will be the “Yearly Ritual” again.

Once you have sufficient Leadership Involvement, you can progress to the next level:

Decide how involved other employees will be in the next strategic planning session. Employees need to be engaged so they have a sense of ownership in the process. When employees are engaged, deployment becomes easier.

Next, determine how much communications have been done in the past about the strategic plan and how effective it has been. Communications about the strategic plan have to be clear and consistent to the entire organization including the goals, objectives, responsibilities and timelines to be met.


Look back at past strategic plans and determine how implementable the goals have been. If the goals are not realistic employees will not believe in them or support them. While the strategic plan is being developed this year make sure the goals are realistic, achievable, and implementable.

At this stage, your four containers are full and you can progress to full and successful roll-out.


Make sure your strategic plan is not disguised as an operational plan. An operational plan is short term that is very practical and specific with many items to be accomplished.

Strategic plans are long range broadly defined set of statements describing the purpose of the organization with associated strategies to achieve the purpose. Strategic planning is a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does and why it does it.


Supporting Articles:

The Thirty Pitfalls of Strategic and Operational Planning And How To Overcome Them.

How to effectively track the implementation of your strategic plans

Stop analysis paralysis! Use an “Action SWOT” as part of your problem solving approach