Building a strategic plan takes a lot of work. So when it comes time to put it into action, you want to get it right. 😤

But the truth is, an effective rollout starts during the planning process.

Want to learn why that is, and what you need to do to make sure your strategic plan is seen through to its triumphant conclusion? 🏆

Stay tuned, as we cover:

  • Why stakeholder buy-in is so important, and how to foster it before you roll out your plan.
  • How to operationalize your plan, and why this is the best first step you can take in rolling out.
  • How communication, accountability, and incentives can be your best friends when progress is slow.

Creating a plan

Before you can roll out your strategic plan, you have to create it. And the actions you take or don’t take while creating your plan have a big impact on how successful it ends up being.

Why is that, you ask?

It’s because rolling out your strategic plan involves others. Others’ hard work is integral to successfully rolling out and implementing your plan.

With a big enough vision, your strategic plan involves multiple teams from across your organization. You need to speak with these teams’ leaders, and get their buy-in. You also need the buy-in of those working under these leaders. The boots on the ground who will actually carry out the day-to-day tasks that push your plan forward.

Forget the importance of others, and you can forget about your plan being seen to completion.

So, if rolling out your plan successfully begins with how you create it, what should that planning process look like?

Here’s each step in detail:

  1. Decide on where you want to get to.
  2. Figure out where you are right now.
  3. Create a strategic taskforce.
  4. Hold your first taskforce meeting.
  5. Take stock and consolidate.
  6. Get your stakeholders' sign off.

1 - Decide on where you want to get to

First, figure out where you want to get to, why you want to get there, and how getting there will benefit the business.

Your leadership team might have already made these decisions for you. But making sure you’re clear on these points, including the why and the how, helps you in three ways:

  1. It makes it easier to get stakeholder buy-in by communicating how and why your plan is in everyone’s best interests.
  2. It makes top-down communication clearer, which removes potential for misunderstandings and wasted efforts.
  3. It aligns everyone, across teams, on intended direction and priorities.
Your first task is to figure out what your point "A" is, and what you have to do to get to point "B".

2 - Figure out where you are right now

Once you’ve figured out where you want to go, get clear on where you are right now.

Establishing the state of the business relative to what sits on the other side of your strategic plan is crucial. It tells you what you need to change.

Depending on how much work others have done for you, this step and step one could take days, or only minutes-to-hours, while you remind yourself of the facts.

Allow ideas on how you’ll get from A to B to start flowing. Before you come up with anything concrete, though, you’ve got further steps to take.

3 - Create a strategic taskforce

It’s crucial you involve others as early as you can. This makes sure you’re all on the same page, and maximizes your plan’s chances of success.

To do this, set up a taskforce or advisory board. This should consist of people who’ll be involved with the plan. But you can’t involve everyone. Now’s the time to figure out who to involve.

If you’re struggling to decide, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Based on what you know of what it’ll take to move from A to B, which teams will be involved?
  • Who will have the most impact on the success of the project from those teams?
  • Who will have the most impact on the success of the project from outside those teams?

You might also want to consider whose input you’d appreciate, even if they won’t be directly involved.

To be fair, involve at least one person from every team you think will play a part in bringing your plan to fruition. Allow them to be the champion for their respective department, and gather others’ ideas to bring to the table. Team leaders and managers are obvious choices.

4 - Your first taskforce meeting

Here’s where the prep work really starts to blend into the rollout. Your taskforce will serve as an advisory board, so seek their advice!

You can facilitate a strategic planning session yourself, or select a facilitator from among the various third parties who offer this as a service.

Here’s a sample agenda:

  1. Get feedback on your initial brainstorms.
  2. Gather solutions from others (before sharing your own).
  3. Establish a regular cadence for meetings.
  4. Finalize your taskforce lineup.

1) Get feedback on your initial brainstorms

In the first meeting or two, sound everyone out for their feedback on (i) your ideas on where the business is right now; (ii) your vision for where you’d like to get to.

Remember: a great metric for an effective meeting is equal talk time. Make sure everyone (even the quiet ones) gets their chance to speak up and share.

2) Gather solutions from others (before sharing your own)

Before floating your ideas on how to get from point A to point B, ask your taskforce for its thoughts on how they’d get there.

If solutions or ideas are slow to come, hold back on offering your own ideas just yet. Save this for the second or third meeting. This has a number of key benefits:

  1. It gives people time to figure out solutions over days to weeks, giving you better and more mature ideas for your strategic plan.
  2. It ensures everyone knows you’ve taken the time to digest their thoughts and opinions, making them more open to hearing your own thoughts on how you should move forward.
  3. It involves others from the start of the process, getting them invested in the results of the project and all but guaranteeing their buy-in down the line when the going gets tough.

3) Establish a regular cadence for taskforce meetings

It’s also important to keep these meetings regular, even if they’re only once a month or so. So set aside some time during this first meeting to establish a cadence for further meetings for the duration of the plan

This keeps people accountable, but it’s also a show of respect that (i) you’re serious about this and value others’ time, and (ii) you’ll be keeping everyone updated as the project goes on.

4) Finalize your taskforce lineup

Also, some of the people you’ve selected might have other ideas on who should be involved. Or they might have opinions on whether they and their teams should be involved, and to what degree. This is a good time to resolve these points and finalize your taskforce’s lineup.

5 - Take stock and consolidate

After the first couple of taskforce meetings, take the time to (i) go through everyone else’s ideas, (ii) re-examine your own initial ideas of how you should solve the problem, and (iii) synthesize both of these together into a concrete plan.

Since you’ve taken time to:

  • Let your own thoughts gestate
  • Sound people out
  • Meet with your taskforce
  • Have them seek input from their teams…

…you should now have a strong idea of what your plan should look like in practice.

For that reason, you’ll often be pleasantly surprised to find the plan comes together very quickly.

Is your competitive program effective enough?

Imagine if you could:

  • Set up your listening stack to gather competitive intel with ruthless efficiency, giving you more time to analyze, enable, inform, and become your business’s champion. 💪
  • Set up win/loss interviews to unveil the powerful reasons why customers aren’t choosing you, even if you’ve got no time or resources. 🔎
  • Deliver a competitive news briefing that gets people talking, no matter which set of stakeholders you serve. 📣

We’ve got a brand new course that covers every aspect of competitive intelligence, and what it takes to be successful.

Interested? Click the button right now to check it out.

Give me more info!

Aside: why you must not skip these steps

Don’t skip the above steps. If you try to force a plan together last-minute, without consulting others, you’ll find the opposite is true.

First, your plan will be incomplete. Whether you know it or not, you have blind spots and biases. Others will be able to shine a light on these, saving you time down the line from avoidable mistakes.

Secondly, and most importantly, you won’t have laid the all-important groundwork necessary to get others on board. That all-important stakeholder buy-in won’t materialize when you need it most.

Since your plan doesn’t reflect stakeholders’ thoughts and opinions, they won’t feel invested in it. Since you haven’t given them an opportunity to disagree with you, or to voice concerns, they won’t feel valued.

In fact, their teams might just not have the bandwidth to do what you need them to do. And, since you haven’t shared your plans with them or involved them, their priorities might not align with yours. Expecting them to change tack simply at your say-so is unfair, and is likely to foster ill will.

6 - Get your stakeholders’ sign off

With a concrete plan in place, have one more meeting with your stakeholder group where you present your finished plan and get their sign-off. This is going to impact them and their teams too. That’s why they’re involved.

Take this opportunity to outline exactly what the plan will require of them and their teams. That means reasonable detail in terms of tasks and time.

This way, if anyone thinks those requirements are too much, they can push back. This avoids your plan slamming to a halt because the boots on the ground lack capacity. When you all agree on your priorities, and everyone accepts the suggested workloads, you’ve got a great springboard to achieve something great.

Finally, and before you roll out your plan, it makes sense to pressure test it.

Business wargaming is one way you can roleplay less favorable scenarios, and test how your plan will cope.

Rolling out the plan

Now it’s time to roll out the plan.

If you’ve taken the time to lay the necessary groundwork, follow the above steps, and involve the necessary stakeholders, you’ll find things fall into place without many hiccups.

Of course, in practice, nothing ever goes perfectly. But when it comes time to pivot, or to put out a fire, you’ll find you have a team of reliable, invested firefighters to help you. Without them, you may still succeed, but everything will take more effort, and your chances of success are much lower.

While it might seem like a lot of preliminary work, the time you save yourself in the long-run makes it well worth it.

Now let’s roll out that plan:

  1. Operationalize the plan.
  2. Educate and enable task doers.
  3. Check for accountability and incentives.
  4. Questions to ask to maximize buy-in.
  5. Communicate the plan and its updates.
  6. See the plan through to completion.

1) Operationalize the plan

First off, you have to break things down into constituent tasks.

This is known as operationalizing your strategic plan. This isn’t a quick process but, from a managerial standpoint, it’s very effective.

You need a concrete consensus on:

  • What will get done.
  • Who will be doing it.
  • When they will have it done.
  • Who they will be delivering it to.

Without these, no one sees a task as their responsibility. Or, they’re not sure what they should be doing, or how big of a priority it is. With the landslide of business-as-usual activities, and Parkinson’s Law, the “hopefully we can get this done at some point in the next couple of weeks” tasks get lost.

Your strategic plan deserves better than that.

When you operationalize your plan, you break everything down into manageable, practical pieces. Every “piece” (task) gets assigned to somebody. Every task gets a deadline, and a description.

In practice, this just boils down to getting your plan broken down and into your project management software of choice.


Project management software like Asana makes it easy to operationalize your plan by breaking it down into tasks. Video courtesy of

This has a number of benefits:

  1. It’s easier to track progress.
  2. It’s easy to see tasks getting blocked by unfinished work.
  3. People can incorporate your project’s tasks alongside their other responsibilities.

2) Educate and enable task doers

Before you get underway, and perhaps at intervals during the course of the plan, make sure everyone has the materials they need to get the job done.

As the project owner, you should mostly know what each task requires. What its purpose is, and what its outcome needs to be. If you have learning material that could help members of a team be successful, it only makes sense to provide them.

Remember: Different people work differently. Some are literal thinkers, and need a lot of direction and detail in the task. If you don’t include it, they won’t do it, and will wonder why you’ve chosen not to include essential details.

Others think more conceptually, and will fill in the blanks for you. Hopefully, the right people are in the right roles and think in ways that complement their role.

3) Check for accountability and incentives

You can’t involve everyone who’ll end up actually carrying out the plan in your stakeholder meetings. But it’s important your task doers are kept informed and inspired, even as they’re held accountable.

Incentives are always helpful. If accountability is the motivational stick, incentives are your motivational carrots.

Tip: don’t make things concrete too far into the future. Life and business are unpredictable. An inflexible plan is at risk of pulling the business in the wrong direction if you do not adapt. For more information, see “How to operationalize a strategic plan.”

4) Questions to ask to maximize buy-in

That said, the same things that maximize buy-in from your taskforce members will do the same for your task doers. If someone is consistently letting deadlines slip, ask:

  • Do they really know why they’re doing this? And how it contributes to the success of the plan? 🙋
  • Do they understand how the plan will help the business but, more importantly, how the success of the plan can positively impact them and their own career? 🤔
  • Are they adequately incentivized towards success? 🧐
  • Are they getting the support they need with their work in general? 🤝

If you can answer “Yes” to all of the above, then it’s time to look at whether they’re being held accountable for not meeting their deadlines.

Some of these points, like support, aren’t necessarily your responsibility. But it’s in your best interest to make sure they’re in place if you want your plan completed. For that reason, it pays to take care of any issues if you’ve asked the responsible party to take care of it, but things aren’t improving.

5) Communicate the plan and its updates

Communicate the plan company-wide, or as wide as necessary to make sure all involved parties can get on board.

As we’ve alluded to above, it’s important that your task doers have some sort of direct line to you and your vision. It’d be naïve to 100% rely on your taskforce members to communicate your vision for you.

Here are a number of suggestions for making sure people understand your plan and your vision:

  • A regular, company-wide newsletter works wonders. Delegate this if you have to, but format it so the key details are up top, and the detail is below for those motivated to read it.
  • Incorporate your plan into the onboarding process for new employees as well, so no one gets missed.
  • Create a one-page summary document, and make it available in key locations for all to read and see.
  • Be vigilant about updating people when the plan changes.
Take inspiration from your competitive intelligence team's competitive briefings to keep your org informed about updates to your strategic action plan. Image courtesy

6) See the plan through to completion

When everyone knows what they should be doing, and by when; when everyone understands why they’re doing the tasks; when they have all the information and materials they need to get them done; when they’re adequately incentivized and informed, your plan will come together nicely.

That doesn’t mean it’ll be smooth sailing all the way through. Life and business are unpredictable. You will need to adapt and make changes along the way.

When you work closely with your stakeholders, continue to celebrate people’s wins and incentivize great work, there are no barriers you can’t overcome. Dig deep, work methodically, and achieve your vision.

Tip: Don’t get lost in the weeds here. Aim for a “minimum viable project” first, and fill in the gaps from there as you go. The 20% of the tasks that will contribute to 80% of your plan’s success are the ones where your focus should be. Anything beyond this is bonus material.

Things to be careful of: bias and blinkers

Before we wrap up, there are some things it pays to be mindful of before rolling out any strategic plan:

Bias and blinkers.


Don’t disregard the thoughts and opinions of others. The members of your strategic taskforce aren’t there to pay lip service to your amazing plan. They’re there because they’ve got a track record of success and will be, in part, responsible for the plan’s success.


If you get feedback that something’s not working, don’t ignore it. Creating and rolling out a strategic plan is a lot of work. It’s easy to resist feedback when it comes out of fear of having to redo a ton of that work. You must not resist it.

Feedback is crucial to redirecting. If you respond to feedback early, you’ll find it easy to correct course. If you ignore feedback until it’s almost too late, it will be far more work to undo what you’ve done, figure out what needs to change, implement those changes, and get everyone back on board.

It’s not easy to keep stakeholders on board. If you lose their trust, it’s hard to get it back.


  • Rolling out a strategic plan is a lot of work, but it’s a lot more work if you don’t do the necessary prep to get stakeholders and teams on board.
  • Communication is key. Keep people updated when things change.
  • Be adaptable. Listen to feedback in all forms, and don’t plan too far into the future.
  • Break your plan down into tasks people can manage. This makes it clear who’s responsible for what and keeps people accountable.

Everyone knows it’s not the beginning or the end of a project that’s difficult. When the end is in sight, the pressure of deadlines, social ramifications, and the excitement of a job well done push people over the finish line.

In the beginning, the excitement of fresh ideas, the winds of change, and a motivational vision get people motivated to join in the fight. It’s the drudgery of the eternal middle where things tend to fall apart.

That’s why (i) this buy-in from others is so important and (ii) why it’s so important to operationalize your strategic plan, breaking it down into constituent steps, stages, and action points. Break it down into a set of action plans, with bite-sized tasks, and watch your vision materialize in front of your eyes.

Need help with competitive intelligence?

Does your competitive intelligence program leave something to be desired?

Imagine if you could:

  • Set up your listening stack to gather competitive intel with ruthless efficiency, giving you more time to analyze, enable, inform, and become your business’s champion. 💪
  • Set up win/loss interviews to unveil the powerful reasons why customers aren’t choosing you, even if you’ve got no time or resources. 🔎
  • Deliver a competitive news briefing that gets people talking, no matter which set of stakeholders you serve. 📣

We’ve got a brand new course that covers every aspect of competitive intelligence, and what it takes to be successful.

Interested? Click below right now to check it out.