Activating a Strategic Plan
You know that 3” binder that sits on the shelf and only gets pulled out once a year? For some leaders and teams, the words “strategic plan” have very little meaning. For organizations depending on achievement of specific results to survive and thrive, the strategic plan charts the course for success.
Bringing a strategic plan to life in an organization requires thoughtful chunking and tracking of goals, measures, and actions. Once teams are clear about expected outcomes and the system for reporting results, the strategic plan is activated by team member actions.
MOVING IN THE SAME DIRECTION
Being pulled in multiple and competing directions in an organization is not uncommon. Strategic plans help focus all of our efforts in the same direction. Strategic plans are broad in scope and provide a picture of long-term success. These plans drive the work over multiple years.
Activating a strategic plan begins with converting the broad goals from the plan to annual goals. These are often tracked on an organizational scorecard. The annual goals are measurable and clearly defined action steps are identified. Further chunking of goals occurs as leaders determine quarterly priorities that will ensure success for the year. Teams engage in short cycles of action to build a disciplined cadence of progress. The short cycles align to the quarterly goal-setting process and include weekly adjustment meetings to ensure team actions are achieving the defined aims. Annual progress and results are compared to the strategic plan.
ACTIVATING A STRATEGIC PLAN IN 3 STEPS
Create a Scorecard
Annual scorecards divide the strategic plan’s big aim priorities into yearly targets of success. Scorecards are developed at the executive level and cascade to all levels in the organization. The process of cascading the executive leader’s scorecard goals creates alignment between organizational expectations and individual measures and actions. A scorecard clearly communicates the goals for the year, the progress measures that tell the team how we are doing, and strategic actions that explain how we will reach the goals. Scorecard goal status is updated on a quarterly basis, along with any needed progress measure and strategic action revisions.