As Benjamin Franklin famously said, ‘if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.’ An effective business strategy should clearly identify where your business is headed and create cohesion within an organization to achieve the target goals. It should not only define the destination but also set out the best route and provide the tools with which to measure progress along the way. When it comes to strategic planning businesses should keep three D’s in mind: Decisions, Direction, and Dedication.

Decisions

In order to begin your journey to success, you need to first and foremost decide the overall goal and vision of the organization. Once these key points are established and understood, it is important for executives to then communicate and share these with the managers who will then share within their teams. Harvard Business School professor David Collis says, “It’s a dirty little secret: most executives cannot articulate the objective, scope, and advantage of their business in a simple statement. If they can’t, neither can anyone else.” He also cites Roger Martin’s research, which found that 43% of managers cannot state their own strategy. It is vital for the objectives of an organization to be understood and communicated to ensure clarity as, in most cases, those who are at the forefront of achieving these goals are not the executives within a company, they are the managers and employees.

Direction

Having a strategic direction or vision is paramount to the success of any organization in a global market. Your vision lays out a destination; your destination guides your strategy; and strategy chooses action. It’s action that leads to success. In those moments of action, having clear direction is crucial for building momentum. Harvard Business Review cites a study that found that only 14% of people understood their company’s strategy and only 24% felt the strategy was linked to their individual accountabilities. Setting KPIs that are specific to the individual and the plan is vital to build a greater understanding of the overall strategy, and also to measure and enhance performance within a team.

Dedication

Company-wide visions and goals need to be solid and clear to the organization as a whole, however, factors can change during the implementation process. Therefore, the strategic plan must be flexible, dynamic and agile. The best tactic is to factor your strategic plan into your everyday activities, as a constant reminder of the larger, long-term goals to be achieved, so they don’t get lost, forgotten or become hazy. Many people are great at creating a strategy, but fail to put it into practice effectively – especially across disparate divisions or over the long term. It is important to ensure commitment, collaboration and dedication from the entire organization in order to achieve overall market success.

If a strategic plan is done effectively, it will provide clarity and momentum, aligning teams around key decisions and creating positive energy throughout the organization. With these three D’s in place, it will be easier to measure, obtain and achieve the overall vision of the organization, and in time, will achieve success.