Strategic plans are only as good as the paper they’re printed on. But the thinking that goes into them is extremely valuable. The process is sometimes more important than the actual plan. How and who you involve in this critical thinking process will ultimately determine the success or failure.
Any plan will involve change. Change will come much easier if the people involved in the change have a role in the development of that change. Most companies cannot effect change with the owner being the one and only one that carries out the plan – the changes. Any plan and the thinking that goes into that change will easily be communicated to employees if the leaders in those groups were involved in the thinking that created the new direction or the expectation of increased performance.
This will help communicate the responsibilities for each member of each team as they relate to the new plan. The leaders should be able to quickly review and discuss why each team members participation is important.
Every part of your strategic plan needs to have an owner. The owner is the front line person responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the progress of the new or enhanced direction. These are key people who should have been involved in the strategic thinking and planning.
The giving of “ownership” is critical to the success of the plan. There are several factors that impact this. First, is the person given ownership. If they are not of the right quality and have not bought in then this portion of the plan is “DOA”. Second, company owners or managers must guard against taking back “ownership”. We need to grow leaders in our businesses in order to grow our businesses. This entails letting these leaders lead and do things their way. As the ultimate investors in the strategic plan we must be more focused on outcomes and not how the outcomes are accomplished.
The what is the actual outcome I want to get accomplished. But, it can also be “what” people, equipment and new processes and training that needs to be brought to bear on the goal. These “what’s” need to be spelled out during the strategic thinking phase. These will always be subject to change. Most of these types of items will require a budget and will require someone to develop written processes and training for any new processes and for any new hires that may be needed.
There should be a “date certain” for each step of the process. Timing is everything in business. If you think and plan to the level of accomplishments by date then you will more clearly identify what is required and when. Your probability of successes improves greatly. You know the timing of the purchases of equipment or material, hiring of new staff, and training on any new processes and procedures. This also builds in accountability for the owner of this strategy.
Accountability and Flexibility
Company owners then need to be disciplined in holding the process or strategy owners to report on progress or any areas of difficulty. This will require a strategic calendar that can been seen by all process owners. Your team will be required to have regular meetings to report on progress and check off milestones as they are accomplished.
Expect to make alterations and changes along the way. That is the nature of future oriented plans. The future doesn’t always cooperate. Making changes doesn’t mean failure it means you are capable of adapting to your conditions. Always a good thing in an uncertain world.
The process is as important as the plan. Change can be exciting and daunting and the same time. But, rallying your staff around common visions and goals is the way to create a dynamic and growing company.
You know the areas you need to improve in so don’t let 2018 just be another version of 2017.
Robert Counts Chad Counts Johnny Logel
Robert Counts, firstname.lastname@example.org; 512-693-6915
Chad Counts, email@example.com; 512-963-4626