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Every year I encounter advisory firms who spend countless hours – often tens of thousands of dollars – to develop their strategic direction, create marketing plans or train their associates. The goal of these efforts is to create long-term, lasting change and improved results. Yet what I find most frequently is that they experience an initial boost in results and morale, but these improvements quickly disappear shortly after the focused effort ends.

The root cause is that they are giving their employees a plan, but not teaching them how to execute its goals in measurable actions.

I recently completed work with a large RIA that illustrated a perfect example of this scenario. This firm was struggling with lackluster growth for several years and I engaged to help develop a business development structure that was consistent, effective and long lasting. During the discovery interview I found out the firm worked with a consultant several years before who gave them a marketing plan that was expected to help with their growth issues. When I asked about the results, the firm mentioned that the plan was never implemented. The firm principals admitted the plan was overwhelming in its scope and that they did not know where to start. This plan was long on objectives, yet painfully short on actionable steps.

What this client needed more than a plan was a process to execute that included goals and measurable actions (GMAs). A GMA process creates a path to plan implementation that includes a clear accountability loop. Everyone in the organization knows the overall goals and exactly what measurable actions they must complete to achieve those goals. Trying to execute a plan without a GMA process is similar to trying to assemble a piece of IKEA furniture without the step-by-step instructions. You may get close to your goal, but your chances of having a functional piece of furniture are not high.