Great strategic plans have been written on the backs of envelopes and on napkins. They aren’t that hard to come up with. There are a lot of smart people with great insights on how to serve customers. Putting those down and calling it a plan isn’t rocket science. Even if you’ve included a lot of stakeholders to get consensus, the developed plan isn’t necessarily more ‘viable’. Whether the plans includes disparate groups or was done just by top leadership, there’s a large risk that the plan gets put in a drawer and won’t be referenced until the next time it gets done.
The real power of a Strategic Plan is in how it lives and breathes within an organization and how employees are aligned to it and your Mission with their actions and behaviors.
To paraphrase Field of Dreams, build it and they won’t necessarily come.
For a Strategic Plan to work, and for the organization to believe in it, these are 4 critical questions you need to ask:
- To what extent is the plan connected to the Mission and Vision of the organization? How does that connection come through in the Plan itself and how will you connect it over time?
- How are lower level plans not only connected with the Strategic Plan, but also to the Mission and Vision and other departments plans? Don’t assume that if A = B and B = C that A = C. Real misalignment starts when plans that depend on other departments are not aligned and connected with those other departments to create mutually-agreed priorities.
- How are the accountabilities for employees connected to the Plan and how well do employees buy into all of it? If the tasks are just given and no real connection is made, the rubber may never hit the road. Personal accountability will not be there and joint accountability will definitely not be enhanced.
- How are you weaving in stories over time about how employees are behaving in accordance with the plan and the Mission? In other words, how are you keeping the Plan and Mission fresh in people’s minds and setting parameters for the type of actions that align to it?
Your role as a organizational leader is not to simply get stuff done. It’s not just to enable employee engagement. It’s to empower and align available resources, human or other, in a way that will accelerate performance. Coming up with the Plan is not enough. Regularly connecting Plan and Mission to everyday work in relevant ways to others will allow your Plan to be all it can be.
If your Plan is languishing and sitting in drawers, you can still salvage it. If you are developing, or have just developed the plan, you are in a good place to make sure it lives and breathes. Read this post on 4 ways to Sell your Strategic Plan to get some ideas on how to succeed in your quest.
Do you have any stories about how you salvaged your strategic plan or missed opportunities and learned?