6. January, 2016|Blog, Featured Blog Post|Comments Off on Strategic Planning Part 3: 7 Tips for Successful Strategic Plan Implementation

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In our first two strategic planning posts, we talked about the common pitfalls of strategic planning and how to create a realistic plan that brings actual results.

But what about the day-to-day execution?

Here are seven practical tips for successful strategic plan implementation.

  1. Assign a Planning Champion

Once the excitement of a having a new strategic plan wears off, it’s easy for the team and leaders to get caught up in the normal chaos of work – and lose track of how the work connects back to the plan. Assign a champion the role of keeping the entire organization focused on strategic plan goals. Be sure to give the planning champion the responsibility and authority to keep a running account of progress on the goals.

  1. Use Annual Goals to Drive Progress

While you may have multi-year, massive goals included in your overall strategic plan, break goals down into smaller, bite-size annual goals to keep things moving forward. Ensure each individual staffer, manager and executive is accountable for specific annual, measurable, time-bound goals that tie directly to the strategic plan. Create a dashboard of key goals in Excel, GoogleDrive or a dedicated dashboard program that the planning champion – and ultimately the board and/or administration – can use to track progress. Have the planning champion use this goals dashboard to prepare monthly and quarterly update reports – and discuss these reports in management and executive leadership meetings, in addition to board meetings.

  1. Set Clear Priorities

Multi-year strategic plans can fill a notebook, and getting the implementation side rolling is a daunting process for any team – especially a small one. Once the leadership team prioritizes the goals for the year, every action, meeting, budget dollar and discussion should focus on those priority goals. Once those priorities are set, executives need to stick to those core goals to avoid confusing the team, sidetracking progress and drowning the staff with unnecessary urgencies.

  1. Create Action Teams

Although an individual will own each goal, most goals will not be accomplished by one person or even by a single department. Create small, goals-focused action teams to tackle specific goals. The owner of that goal should be tasked to keep the action team on track. Ensure the action teams understand their timelines, and ensure they are allowed the time and resources to successfully achieve their assigned goals. If the staff is small, consider including volunteers, alumni or board members on the action teams.

  1. Hold People Accountable

Connect annual goals and action-team reports to a system of accountability that rolls up through the organization and ends with the president/CEO – and eventually, the board. Remind the executives and managers they will be held accountable at year’s end for accomplishing the specific goals in the plan and for reporting progress to the planning champion. Evaluate people at every level – through the CEO – on accomplishment of the priority goals.

  1. Measure Results Regularly

Each goal should be assigned a success outcome up front, preferably with some interim “wins” that can motivate the team along the way. Don’t skimp on this step. The goals owner must regularly and effectively track results. Without results data, the leaders and the action teams have no way to know if their efforts were successful – and the executives don’t know when and how to adjust their goals. Make the measures realistic and be sure to assign resources to measurements that require funding – such as surveys or tracking systems.

  1. Make Adjustments – but Don’t Wander Off Track

With the big picture strategic planning goals in mind, the leadership team may need to periodically (annually) adjust goal timeframes, budgets, action team responsibilities, etc. Some goals may be discontinued; new ones may need to be written and assigned. The most important thing to remember is that all new or revised goals should still point to the ultimate vision and high-level outcomes of the strategic plan. If the new goals are non-essential and irrelevant to accomplishing the vision, they will distract the team, thin out resources available to actually move the organization forward – and discourage the staff and leaders. This point is especially important for creative boards or executive leaders who have “a new idea every day.”

 

Bottom line: Celebrate short-term wins. Track and report and discuss – again and again. Keep the big picture in mind – where are you going? And have fun with your team!

We hope this planning series offers you a good starting point for your strategy. Be sure to check out Part One and Part Two. Happy planning in 2016!

 

If you have questions about strategic planning or would like to talk to the GideonStone, LLC, team about a future engagement, please contact us at mm@gideonstone.com or by phone at 713-570-6618.

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