Without implementation and followup, a strategic plan isn’t of much value.
Finally, the work of turning thoughts and ideas into reality begins. An implementation plan, followed by evaluation of how the plan is being carried out, is necessary.
Without it, most strategic plans never get off the ground. Don’t forget the purpose behind strategic planning is to achieve the ranch vision for the future.
Step 9:Implement the strategic plan.
Communication and commitment are two critical components that make up a successful implementation strategy. Individuals involved in developing the plan need to create genuine excitement when discussing the plan with others, especially those being called upon to carry out it out. Lack of communication almost always ensures lack of success.
Here is where tactical and operational plans return to the picture. These are the day-to-day priorities that will implement the vision.
“It’s very difficult to separate the strategic decisions from the tactical ones that carry out what your strategy is,” says Wayne Fahsholtz, president CEO of Padlock Ranch, Ranchester, WY. Dayto- day decisions determine the degree of success of the strategic plan.
“We’re much more comfortable talking about what we’re going to do today and tomorrow,” Fahsholtz says. “To think four or five years from now is something you can put off pretty easily.”
Operational and tactical plans are useful in that they:
• Commit those involved to the implementation.
• Define who will do what, where, when and how.
• Record the successes and failures encountered along the way.
• Help others see progress and take pride in the accomplishments as the plan is implemented.
When developing an action plan, consider:
• Who will lead?
• What are the realistic time frames?
• How will successes be tracked?
For more on the development of specific operational and tactical plans.
Step 10:Monitor performance with the Balanced Scorecard.
The final step in a well-thought strategic plan is measuring performance by monitoring progress and gathering feedback.
Measuring success toward achieving the goals developed in strategic planning can be accomplished by using the Balanced Scorecard (find a workbook).
Built upon the simplicity of a child’s report card, it provides a gauge of how well the ranch performed in each area. Organized into six perspectives (which you will recognize from the GAP analysis exercise and scenario building), it consists of:
• Learning and growth
• Natural resources
• Ag commodities/production
Barry Dunn, King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management executive director, emphasizes that each goal within the Balanced Scorecard is woven together to achieve the strategy. “It begins with the learning and growth perspective,” Dunn says. “That’s always the foundation to achieve the other goals.”
For example, if a ranch’s goal is to better control noxious weeds, it may be necessary to attend a grazing school to acquire more knowledge.
To incorporate a Balanced Scorecard, transfer the strategies that received a “plus” in the strategic and scenario planning matrix from Stage 4 into the proper perspectives.
Next, determine and record actual performance measures for each strategy.
Fahsholtz implemented a version of the Balanced Scorecard to measure progress at the Padlock Ranch. The Padlock’s management team is rewarded based on the results of the ranch’s Balanced Scorecard.
“The card allows a business to focus on a balance of measurement, not just financial, as many systems do,” Fahsholtz says. His focus areas are similar to the six perspectives of the Balanced Scorecard, with five or six goals underpinning each area.
Before the Balanced Scorecard was implemented at the Padlock Ranch, Fahsholtz had objectives for finance, people, natural resources, community and family, which lended itself well to this evaluation method.
Fahsholtz offers this advice to producers considering a strategic plan approach to management: “Be willing to re-examine your long-term strategies. Your long-term goals and objectives probably don’t change a lot, but your tactics sure will.”