Playing for years in a blues band has taught me that the rhythm is what holds it all together. It doesn’t matter how well we’re playing; if the rhythm is off, it all falls apart. Musicians will tell you that when they hit that “groove”, when they find that rhythm, magic happens.
Just like the band that needs to find that repeatable rhythm to put on a great show, an organization’s strategic plan needs a repeatable rhythm to drive execution. In business, a leader’s job is to create and sustain the beat that drives the plan forward.
I believe this fully: a strategic plan without an execution plan is pointless. Don’t waste your time. We call this the rhythm of accountability, and it truly is the steady beat that drives execution. Think of the typical strategic planning process: it’s not uncommon for an executive team to spend 80% of its time on the creation of the plan and 20% on the execution of the plan. We reverse that: 80% of our focus is on establishing the rhythm of accountability that’s going to help leaders hold themselves accountable for the execution of the plan. That’s how important the rhythm of accountability is.
I know from experience, at least at the beginning, that it’s not easy to keep a steady focus on execution. Leaders constantly get sucked into the whirlwind of daily activity, and it gets tough to pull away to focus on the strategy that will drive the company forward.
We recommend the leaders determine what their rhythm will be to pull themselves from the whirlwind. There needs to be devoted time set aside specifically to focus on the execution of the plan. For example, establish a simple rhythm of a monthly one hour update of plan progress (no operational talk aloud) and a quarterly half day review about what’s working, what’s not, and where there needs to be course correction. Simple visual reporting is best. Remember, “done is better than perfect”.
You can determine you own rhythm, but better yet, empower your leadership team to determine the schedule that’s going to drive execution forward. Once this rhythm is established, you’ll see the “band’ come together and the magic happen.
This is a series of blog posts I’m writing about the importantance of strategy to business. My next post: The Law of 3’s.