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It’s Time to Ditch the Spreadsheet

Posted on February 16, 2019


Ditch the spreadsheet

This guest blog post is by ELGL member Rich McGeary.


richGovernment leaders and elected officials make a special commitment to the citizens they serve. These “customers” are their neighbors, their friends, their family members. Local government officials live where they work.

Thus, commitments made in the heat of a political campaign are often more specific, more localized, and carry with them a higher expectation to deliver than at any other level of government.

When the campaign ends, the inevitable challenges of governing take hold. Elected officials experience the need to efficiently and effectively lead complex organizations while, at the same time, pursue a vision for the future that delivers
on commitments made to their neighbors/voters.

Perhaps the most consistent reality is the pace, the scope, and the day-to-day business of running a local government operation.

Ideally, this vision and these commitments become the Strategic Plan, importantly characterized by clear and specific goals, timelines, and deliverables.

In my role as Chief Business Development Officer for Chiefofstaff.com, I regularly meet with elected officials, government and non-profit leaders, and leading corporate executives to discuss these strategy implementation issues. All too often, these leaders are falling short when it comes to executing on their strategic plans.

In fact, according to research published in a Harvard Business Review cover article “Making Strategy Work,” the reality is that over three-quarters of strategic plans in complex organizations fall apart… or sit on a shelf and are never entirely implemented.

Most often, the reasons I hear cited for this failure can be boiled down to one thing: leaders don’t have useful tools for executing their plans in a transparent, end-to-end way.

Spreadsheet technology is dated – now over 30 years old! Surprisingly, around the world, I have consistently seen that even the most sophisticated organizations still attempt to manage their strategy execution efforts using multi-layered spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are not the way to go; spreadsheets are static and require on-going manual updates – version upon version.

While still an excellent tool for a host of analytical tasks and business processes, spreadsheets are, at best, cumbersome and ineffective for managing strategy execution.

Using spreadsheets to execute your plan implementation process, significantly increases the likelihood that you will fail to complete the plan. Strategy implementation success requires that all of an organization’s front-line managers maintain ongoing communication in a collaborative environment that supports transparency.

Spreadsheet-based processes are typically not collaborative. One functional area or department doesn’t know what the other is doing. Without openness, it’s hard for teams to work toward shared goals. And when reporting finally arrives, the information is generally stale. Taken together, all of these limitations lead to implementation failure.

Executing your Strategic Plan relies on transparency and communication; a nimble reporting and tracking process that allows for mid-course corrections; and easy access to accurate and current information.

In a fast-moving, high- performing government or business organization, collaboration is vital, and effective communication is necessary to create a coordinated culture of accountability.

A robust strategy execution cloud platform brings your plan to life and operationalizes communication and collaboration. Importantly, it provides ready access to timely and complete information successful elected officials, and business leaders need.

For elected officials and local government leaders, an intuitive, robust cloud platform will allow for real-time status tracking and ensure that goals, desired outcomes, and visions become a reality.

Later this month, I’ll host a webinar to demonstrate the power of cloud solutions designed for executing Strategic Plans using dashboards, reports, and heat maps customized for each local government client. I hope you’ll join me and, together, let’s ditch the spreadsheets!


Rich McGeary is a software executive, entrepreneur, and CEO with a record of innovation and success simplifying complexity and driving growth through the cultivation of domestic and international relationships. He is a Co-founder of Chiefofstaff.com, a strategy execution SaaS for c-suite leaders that operationalizes strategic plans by digitally consolidating and creating an internal social network focused on implementation.  Chiefofstaff.com brings the digital age to the c-suite. 

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