Strategic plans shouldn’t be static- if you are going to use one, it’s got to be a living, organic and dynamic document. The bane of any and all strategic plans is that after requiring such a great deal of thoughtful organizing and creative problem solving, they sit on a shelf and collect dust, entombed within a three-ring binder.
You may remember that recently we discussed the findings of a study on strategic planning conducted by Forbes, which found the most common avoidable reason for the failure of strategic initiatives is a lack of understanding. Employees just don’t know what they need to do in order to make strategy successful.
In order to keep your plan dynamic you must ensure that it becomes integrated into every fiber of your organization, empowering each employee to move the company in the same direction. While you want to avoid getting mired down in the details, you need to draft a plan that make sense to your entire organization. But, how?
Make your plan a living document by tailoring different versions for different audiences
The trick to grafting your strategic plan throughout all of the different and varied segments of your organization is understanding that each audience will require a different approach, or version of your plan. What motivates or informs one group of individuals may not work with another. Your audiences may include, but aren’t limited to:
- Your board
- Management team
You also have different functions in your organization that need different pieces to the plan. For example, a department only needs the goals and action plans assigned to it. The same is true for individuals.
What to Put in Each Tailored Version of your Plan
The Complete Version: This document has everything and anything you developed in your strategic planning process. This includes:
- Competitive advantage
- Mission, vision, values
- Long-term strategies
- Strategic objectives
- SWOT analysis
- Customer profiles
- Three-year and one-year goals
- Action plan
- Financial projections
- All support material, such as:
- Market research
- Employee assessments
- Customer surveys
The Board Version: The board version is best suited for boards and includes just the high-level stuff such as the mission, vision, values, strategic objectives and goals. Exclude the measures, responsible persons, action plans and so on.
The Bank Version: Banks want a complete strategic plan as well as a narrative description and hard numbers. This version should include
- A complete set of financial projections
- A one-page executive summary
- Bios of key management and staff
- A list of key customers or accounts
- An explanation of financing needs with supporting assumptions
The Management Version: A management version of your strategic plan should be your scorecard. Your scorecard periodically tracks the key performance indicators. As the key performance indicators are tied to goals, your management knows whether you’re on strategy. Use those tracking numbers to produce charts and graphs that quickly provide executives with a dashboard of your performance.
The Communication Version: Strategic planning is as much about articulating a strategic direction as it is getting your staff pulling in the same direction. Communicate your strategic plan through your strategy map. Post the map in the break room or another common area so people are continually reminded of the corporate direction.
The Department Version: For department managers to implement their portion of the strategic plan, the corporate plan needs to be translated to a department plan.
The Individual Version: Like with the department managers, individuals need to know exactly what they’re responsible for so they can act accordingly. Creating an individual action sheet, which lists an employee’s goals and action items, is a great implementation tool. You can use the same sheet as a reporting tool for employees to keep managers informed on their progress.
Remember Not to Get Bogged Down with Too Much Detail
You probably don’t need all these versions, and you may have some special versions based on your company’s needs. Either way, you can see how much easier implementing your plan is when employees have the information they need to execute. By creating these different versions, you won’t see your plan collecting dust!
As you make use of various sections of the document, make sure that you don’t end up with a set of independent strategic plans. Always make sure that all versions point back to the master document. OnStrategy.com was created by my company to avoid just the issue of versioning and to make it easier to implement a plan by giving people in your organization the parts of the plan they are responsible for.