“Hey Don, we did some strategic planning a few years ago and it’s probably time we do it again.”.  

This is a common statement I’ve heard over the years as executives reach out to People Centric to facilitate the strategic planning process.  Too often the act of strategic planning is too focused on the creation of the plan itself and not the execution of the plan.  The result is a solid plan with great intentions and little follow through. Truth be told, most strategic plans fail because people forget to include implementation of the plan in the planning process.

Here are some ways you can make sure that your strategic plan gets implemented and doesn’t just collect dust on the shelf.

1.  Evangelize the Plan – The purpose of a strategic plan is to unite the people in your organization, so it would seem obvious that you need to share the plan.  However, this is a common mistake.  Too many organizations with a strategic plan don’t spend enough time communicating the plan with their employees.  Employees are often aware that there is a plan, but they don’t know what the plan really says.  You need to do more than communicate the plan, you need to evangelize it.  

2.  Create a Strategic Planning Steering Committee – I recommend that every strategic plan needs a team of champions ensuring that the plan is being carried out.  A Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) should meet at least once per month, not to execute the plan itself, but to prioritize the next steps that need to be taken to advance the plan and track who is responsible for each step.  Don’t make the mistake of doing too much too quickly.  Break it down and take it slow.

3.  Reference the Plan Constantly – Leaders throughout the organization need to take every opportunity to highlight the plan in everything that happens.  The plan should come up when decisions are being made and it definitely needs to be brought up when progress is made.  A good plan can be fuel for your team, but you have to light the fuel for it to burn.

4.  Get Lots of People Involved – Great strategic plans get everyone involved.  It is obvious how higher levels in the organization can be involved, but less obvious for front line people.  A good practice is to have departments set their own goals in reference to the strategic plan.  These goals don’t need to only reference the plan, but they should keep the plan in mind.  When people create their own goals to support the plan, they will own them.

Strategic planning is not an initiative.  It’s a habit.  It’s a system that helps bring clarity and direction to people in your organization.  Don’t make it a one time event.  Make it a year long, ongoing process.