Spatial prioritisations are increasingly being undertaken to allocate the investment of limited conservation resources. These techniques are highly effective at identifying where important areas for conservation are located, but of limited use for deciding how implementation of conservation action should be undertaken. Conservation planning should be a collaborative social process, and necessitates that spatial prioritisations be complemented with an implementation strategy. We undertook a conservation planning initiative in the Subtropical Thicket biome in South Africa, complementing a spatial prioritisation with an implementation strategy. Believing strongly in the importance of developing a 'safe-fail' culture in conservation, we detail our activities and document our successes and failures. We synthesize lessons from our experience of collaboratively developing an implementation strategy with stakeholders, so as to ensure it effectively complements a spatial prioritisation.