Strategic Planning: The Next Step
So, you’ve created a strategic plan. You’ve worked through your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Perhaps you’ve also come up with a mission statement. Maybe you’ve even identified your core values. Regardless, somehow, you produced a strategic plan containing identifiable and measurable goals, and the tasks (if accomplished) that will help you achieve them. Perhaps you went so far as to prioritize your tasks and goals with deadlines. Or maybe you identified critical path elements within the plan – those tasks or goals that necessarily must be completed to accomplish other specific tasks or goals.
While the process of creating a strategic plan is part of its success, having the plan serves many meaningful purposes.
For example, it helps make decisions easier. When faced with an advertising or marketing opportunity, one need only consult the organization’s strategic plan to see if it helps accomplish a task or goal. The same can be true for many decisions an organization may need to make, such as on a hire, a capital improvement, or a business opportunity. This doesn’t mean that a strategic plan should not be flexible, dynamic, or adaptive, but an organization should loathe the idea of straying from it. A good strategic plan might include what types of opportunities should be evaluated or how a decision presented to an organization should be analyzed. But inevitably, something will come along that wasn’t anticipated. Pursuing it should not be taken lightly if it is inconsistent with a strategic plan.
A strategic plan should have measurable goals. The next step after adopting the plan is to establish the means and method for establishing the metrics by which the organization’s success can be measured.
How do we know how we are doing on our goals? Goals should not merely be assessed at the stated or agreed deadline, but success toward reaching them should be constantly evaluated. While appreciating those that take time to accomplish, some interim success measures should be identified and monitored. If the tasks previously identified for accomplishing the goal are not working, don’t wait until the stated goal deadline to do something about it. Re-group and reevaluate the organization’s plans. Chances are the goal doesn’t need to be changed, but perhaps the tasks previously identified do. No organization exists in a vacuum. Things change. Recognizing changes can illustrate new opportunities but may also expose new threats. Having a plan is important. Blindly following it is foolish.
Because the organization worked together to identify their goals and tasks, the group should row in the same direction.
Holding each other accountable for achieving them is important. A failure to address failures will only propagate failure. Team members working hard toward accomplishing a team’s goals will not be happy with those who aren’t, nor will they appreciate a failure to hold their teammates accountable by those who have the authority to do so. It may not be easy, but whoever said success was easy?