By Erica Olsen
Ten Things to Keep Your Strategic Plan from Hitting the Shelf

More often than not, life and day-to-day operations take over a well-intentioned strategic plan execution. If it is one more thing everyone has to do, the strategic plan beings to feel like a burden instead of being exciting. By embedding your strategic planning into daily operations, you begin to make strategy a habit instead of an event. Then acting strategic or completing items on your strategic plan becomes natural instead of something extra. Here are ten quick ways to keep your strategic plan from hitting the shelf and collecting dust.

1. Getting Everyone Involved from the Start Make your organization’s plan everyone’s plan. Taking a top down approach is a recipe for failure. Instead, involve everyone on you staff from the start. Throughout the chapters there are references to group exercises and employee feedback. Use them to help develop a strategic plan that everyone feels part of. Take the next step and assign every staff member a goal or objective. Then he or she has direct responsibility for achieving a piece of the organization’s strategy.

2. Deleting the Fluff The sure death of a strategic plan is entombing it in hundreds of pages of text. Less is more. Delete the non-essential verbiage that just clutters up the page. Remember: Your strategic plan is not a business plan. Your strategic plan is for you, your staff, and board. It’s not a sales piece. Delete the fluff.

3. Appointing a Strategy Engineer Appoint someone besides yourself to be the point person for the strategic plan. Anoint this person as the strategy engineer. He or she is responsible for keeping track of your progress through the use of a scorecard (see Chapter 14); getting updates from managers and staff on goals, objectives, and action plans; and organizing meetings and communications about the strategic plan. Ideally your strategy engineer is highly organized and commands the respect of everyone in your company or department. Remember: No matter how much you’d like to do it, it can’t be you.

4. Creating a Strategic Plan Poster By putting your strategic plan on one page, by default, you keep your strategic plan from even touching the shelf. Yes, you need back up documentation, which probably should be in a three-ring binder on a shelf. But put the key parts of your strategic plan on one page, blow it up at Kinkos, and hang it in your break room or common area. By creating a strategic plan poster, you keep everyone focused on your organization’s strategic direction.

5. Hooking Achievement into Incentives We all like to be rewarded for a job well done. Dangling a carrot out there for successfully implementing your strategic plan is a sure way to get some action. Incentives take all different shapes and colors. The green kind is always welcome, but you can develop all sorts of creative perks. By paying for performance, you elevate the importance of your strategic plan.

6. Using a KISS When all else fails – Keep It Simple Stupid. For your strategic plan to be implemented, everyone in your organization has to understand it. Failing prey to big business lingo and confusing jargon diminishes the effectiveness of your plan. It’s really easy to develop a confusing strategic plan. Resist the urge. Use the KISS rule.

7. Holding a Monthly Strategy Meeting Groan…another meeting? Well, yes and no. Replace one of your regularly scheduled staff meetings with a strategy meeting. Meetings about strategy are exciting and people want to be involved. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the status of your plan. Cross of what has been completed. Troubleshoot if something is not happening. Make changes where needed. See for more info. You’ll be surprised at the enthusiasm and effectiveness for this type of meeting.

8. Using a Scorecard Keeping your plan alive requires constant communication. This can seem like too big of a task, so it just falls by the wayside. But if your staff does not know where they stand, it’s impossible to keep implementing. Ignorance is bliss. By using a scorecard you keep everyone in the loop. A scorecard provides a quick snapshot of your organization’s strategic position. Turn the scorecard in to charts and graphs and you have a quick visual that communicates your progress and is fun to look at!

9. Leading by Example There is no better way to keep your plan alive than your leadership. Your complete and total commitment is critical to the success of your plan. If you pull back, even just a little, it gives everyone a license to slack. So talk about your organization’s strategy regularly. Use it in conversations with clients, customers, and board members. Ask questions of your staff about its progress – is it working, isn’t working? When making budget decisions, point back to your plan. Does it fit or doesn’t it? Be a strategic leader and your people will follow.

10. Celebrating Your Success Too often we are so focused on tomorrow’s tasks, we forget to recognize successes today. Don’t wait until the end of the year to recognize achievement. Celebrate small successes along the way! Did you achieve a big goal? Bring in pizza. Take the staff to lunch. Give everyone the day off. Go on a fun outing. No matter how big or small, by celebrating success along the way you’ll keep everyone excited and engaged.

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