Posted by Bill Dann
After reading this article, you will understand the key elements of a strategic planning template and evaluate an example template.

A strategic planning template that is actually used

How many times have you seen a strategic plan binder handed to an organization, and then watched it collect dust on the shelf as the day-to-day work of leadership presses in and squeezes out the motivation, time and interest to move forward strategically? How would things be different if a visual strategic planning template was hanging on the wall of the boardroom, a living, vibrant part of the day-to-day work?  What would this kind of strategic planning template need to truly become an alive and integral part of the organization?

Here is what we designed:

vnsamplechart-sm

A strategic planning template that is part of the organization

We asked: What is missing from the vast majority of strategic planning templates that allows all the hard work put into designing a vision and strategic plan to become merely a paperweight in the CEO’s office? In other words, what is essential for a strategic planning template to be successful? The following are our answers:

  • Ease of use: a bound book is no easy tool to wield in day-to-day managing. To make it past the fires that flame while running an organization, a strategic planning template needs to be concise, readable, and easy to digest and use in the small blocks of time leadership can allot to it.
  • Flexibility: The strategic environment that any organization operates in is highly dynamic. Tremendous impacts to an organization can come in an instant — a new competitor, an oil spill, or a crashing stock market can open some doors and close others in the blink of an eye. A strategic planning template that cannot adjust to that volatility will quickly become extinct and useless to the organization.
  • Accountability: Deciding the course to follow is one thing; determining who is going to do the work to stay on that course is entirely another. Without accountability, strategic work doesn’t get done. There is just too much day-to-day work to do, too many fires to put out, and small wins to grab hold of — particularly if pay-offs may not be seen for several years. However, introduce accountability for results, monthly update meeting, and real problem-solving in order to get the work done, and there is traction — real traction — to carry the plan forward.
  • Alignment: Leadership can create a plan, but if it doesn’t sell it to its constituents, and even more, if it doesn’t show it’s willing to do the work to accomplish the plan, there will never be the buy-in and alignment from front-line staff to support the work necessary.

The design

We have designed the Vision Navigation® chart to deliver these four key elements. The chart shows on one page what the tasks to be accomplished for each strategic project, when those tasks are due, and who is responsible to do them. Leadership is tasked to meet at least monthly on progress, coloring in the percent complete on each task and discussing if tasks need to be moved to other quarters, projects revised or new strategies added.

The chart is also the key tool for alignment.  Leadership can present the chart to staff, the board or other constituents, explaining the vision and how the projects tie to it, showing the tasks to be completed, and allowing staff and board to track progress along with the leadership team. Alignment, accountability, flexibility and ease of use are built in to the tool.

How to obtain a Vision Navigation® chart

If you are interested in a Vision Navigation® chart for your organization, we invite you to look around our site, get to know our staff and our process, then give us a call.

Pages you may be particularly interested in are:

  • Strategic Planning case studies
  • Library articles on strategic planning tools and model.
  • PGS staff and the experience we can bring to your organization
  • A strategic planning assessment to score your current plan and provide you with tools and literature you can use now.

We are always happy to answer your questions or set up a conversation. Contact us via e-mail or by phone at (877) 276-4414. We will be happy to talk with you about your current strategic plan, answer your questions or work together to create a Vision Navigation® chart for your organization.