Objectives are amazing things that can focus all stakeholders in an organization and give real purpose to a team. They are absolutely useless, however, without a plan of action that outlines the work that must be done to realize the objective. In fact, objectives with no plan to bring them to fruition can hardly be called objectives. Action plans cascade down through the levels of your business in the same way as objectives.
The action plans that support your strategic objectives should not be too detailed, they should focus on pointing out which departments or functions will be responsible for carrying out the objectives. Your departmental action plans can be a bit more focused, detailing which actions will need to take place, who will be responsible for them, a date they must be completed by, and a measurement (KPI) that will be used to track progress towards accomplishing the objective.
As the business owner, you will likely be involved in building the high-level action plans. Don't allow yourself to become embroiled in the detailed day-to-day plans unless you discover there are objectives that aren't being met. Whenever possible, delegate departmental and positional action plans to your managers.
An action plan should always be considered a temporary thing. It's a description of the way your business does something right now. As you monitor the results of your action plans, you will revisit them again and again, making improvements as you go.
Action Plans Become Systems
There will be actions that happen inside your business on a regular or recurring basis. If you manufacture ball bearings for instance, the action plan of some employees will be consistent from day to day. When actions become consistent, action plans turn into systems. The journey that your business is on as you endeavour to climb the value pyramid will come to a grinding halt if you are unable to systemize the recurring work that goes on in your business. It will be forever left in the hands of your capable staff to do the work and train the incumbents, or worse - for you to do it all yourself. We will talk about systems more in-depth in the following chapter, but they deserve a brief introduction here as they are so closely related to action plans.
Have your managers setup departmental action plans that coincide with each of their department's objectives. Don't let this bog you down; do use it for an opportunity to increase communication between yourself and your managers.