Your strategic plan lies at the heart of your organization. It outlines your vision for the future and maps out the goals and milestones to get there. It helps you prioritize, make resourcing decisions, and get everyone on the same page working toward this shared vision.
You likely put a lot of thought and energy into creating your strategic plan, but in reality, the vast majority of them never realize their full potential. Why? Because the people responsible for execution are disconnected from the plan itself. For your strategic plan to have meaning and get results, you need to plan your implementation. Your strategic plan implementation process needs a … well, strategy!
We’ve seen everything when it comes to strategy execution: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And we understand the common threads that take your plan from paper to action. The success or failure of a strategic plan relies on your ability to make it actionable and align your team with those actions. Below are three key game changers that will help you get the most out of your plan.
Operationalize your plan
Strategic plans only get implemented because of the hard work and dedication of a lot of individuals. Stakeholders, department managers, and staff all need to rally around the plan to get the job done. With so much involvement from every level of the organization, tracking and reporting gets messy and the proper structures
It helps to start with a planning cascade. Establish your top-level goals, then break these down into strategies. Once you’ve done that, you can build your action items. Each level can be owned independently, and items can be assigned to different departments or members of staff but, crucially, every aspect can be traced back to your overall vision. When your reporting strategy maps onto your cascade, it gives you the greatest insights into your progress.
Track your progress
How often are you going to take the pulse of your organization? Regular check-ins on your action items help you take stock of where you are. It shows you if the work you’re doing every day is propelling your plan. Are you staying on schedule and on budget? Is the work rolling up to your goals and objectives? Taking a regular look in the mirror helps you to pinpoint any issues or challenges, reevaluate, and adjust where necessary. Problems may be resolved by simply tweaking the budget, or it could mean that you need a deeper recalibration—either way, you won’t know until you know.
Celebrating the wins
When you’re having success, stop to appreciate it. Acknowledging, rewarding, and celebrating your wins along the way is critical to keeping everyone motivated and invested. It’s often overlooked but has one of the most significant impacts on whether or not your accomplish your goals. With tight deadlines and endless to-do lists, it’s tempting to quickly pass over the wins as people move on to the next thing. If people don’t see how their work plays into the larger plan, they don’t know what they’re working for and they risk disengaging. It’s important for people to know where they fit in the big picture.
Break your plan down and make it real. Decide how to measure your success and keep track of it. Celebrate the victories along the way. When you’re clear and transparent about your objectives, you make yourself accountable to your results and you see greater engagement, buy-in, and commitment from stakeholders. These steps make your plan meaningful—and keep it from collecting dust on the shelf.