Prior to the 1960s, the possibility of having a man walk on the moon seemed astronomically absurd. In 1956, a space advisor to the UK scoffed at the thought and was on record calling space travel “utter bilge.” The inventor of the vacuum tube Lee deForest said, “To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the field of the moon… and then return to Earth — all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne.” Twelve years later Americans walked on the moon.
For some, the bane of strategy is that it can feel so aspirational and “out there” that even those who have a great deal of insight into an organization are skeptical of its practicality.
Is there a way to be more grounded when making and communicating strategic plans? We believe so. Instead of talking about the moon, talk about the mountains in front of you that all can see. More specifically, consider the following positioning to make sure your plan resonates throughout your organization:
- Verify where your organization is today. (More on this topic)
- Explain the weaknesses and threats that must be addressed now.
- Paint a clear picture of where the organization would be if the weaknesses and threats were tackled (or a short-term vision).
- Give specifics: How 2014 goals will make the organization stronger.
- Break it down: Turn some of these goals into quarterly activities.
- Break it down more: Turn 1-2 quarterly activities into individual’s actions.
- Acknowledge any shifts that will be needed for prioritization of strategy.
- Define ways to get needed help for accomplishing any part of the strategy.
- Commit to a schedule of reports and meetings to continually coordinate strategic tasks. (Example)
- Regularly communicate to the entire organization about the bigger picture on strategic progress. (Example)
You don’t have to commit to living on Mars to make new strides in 2014! Integrating the aspirational into coordinated, actionable steps can build momentum toward strategic success.
Accomplishing tasks incrementally with the larger picture in mind gets us places we’d previously considered impossible. Simply making sure everyone understands their part in the strategic plan is enough to get the ball moving in Q1. Start there and with diligence you’ll begin to see your strategy take a more recognizable shape.