As I work with people on strategic planning activities (once we get over the initial resistance to strategic planning in general!), one of the biggest barriers I find to planning is concern about implementation. Too often implementation just doesn’t happen and organizations find themselves in an endless loop of planning without achieving measurable results.
Part of the problem, I think, is that we invest so much time and energy into planning that this becomes our primary focus. Then when the planning is done, we’re not quite sure what to do next. In my research for my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Strategic Planning I discovered that execution is the primary concern of most businesses when it comes to strategic planning. How can you improve the odds that your plan will actually result in action?
Following are “10 Tips for Implementing Your Strategic Plan” – part of 70 tips in our most recent white paper: “Top 10 Tips for the 7 Steps of Strategic Planning”:
- Strategic planning isn’t really about planning—it’s about executing the plan. A plan is meaningless unless it is implemented.
- Assign clear accountability for accomplishment of specific plan objectives and tactics to individuals not groups. When “everyone” is accountable, “no one” is accountable.
- Don’t wait until your strategic plan is complete and ready to implement before developing your communication plan. Begin planning for communication early in the process, and communicate regularly, so you can hit the ground running once the plan is complete.
- Communication about the purpose of the plan, the process of creating it and its final format should be ongoing with all key stakeholders—internal and external to the organization. The strategic plan should not be a “secret document” shared only with a few, but a roadmap used by all to achieve identified goals.
- Use multiple tools, in multiple ways and at multiple times to ensure that the plan is broadly understood and becomes a guiding force for the organization’s activities.
- Align elements of the plan into the day-to-day operations of the organization by assigning plan responsibilities to employees and including those assignments in work plans and existing performance evaluation processes.
- Keep the plan “alive” by using it as the basis for meeting agendas at every level of the organization. This is a good way to continually reinforce that the plan is directly the activities of the organization and is not just a writing exercise.
- Have regularly established report-outs on plan progress.
- Incorporate a feedback loop to receive feedback about the content of the plan and recommendations for future plans. The planning process should be iterative, each subsequent plan building upon what has been learned from the former plan.
- Recognize that a strategic plan is never “done.” The plan should be a “living” document that provide ongoing direction and focus for the organization.
Just a few quick ideas – what’s worked for you?
Author: Linda Pophal, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org