Strategic Planning

Maintaining Strategic Momentum

I decided to share one more blog post before returning to our “Who Gave You That Idea” series. Many of our clients are scheduling the work to create their next year’s strategic plan. So it seemed a good time to refresh folks on the keys to achieve what they set out to do in their plan. Having completed several hundred strategic plans and then worked with those clients throughout the year to assist them in reaching their intended targets, I have watched some clear patterns and sound lessons emerge.
Ignition of match, with smoke on black
One of the reasons I enjoy planning work is that it allows me to be there when the spark of creation happens, that moment when the group has an insight and commits to a compelling, new future. That is the point in the change journey that is the most positive and the most energetic.

This energy and excitement at the moment of creation are why we counsel clients to move through the planning process as quickly as possible and commence with the work laid out in the plan as soon as they are back at their desks. It is important to capture the momentum that is generated while creating the plan and carry it back to the office to begin the work identified. Because…even with that inspiring spark during planning, it often becomes a challenge to maintain energy for strategic initiatives and create a new future once everyone is back in their day-to-day work environment.

Here are some steps you can take to assure that momentum on strategies for the future is sustained:

  1. Assure that the length of time to create/affirm/revise your vision, approve the strategic agenda going forward and finalize your strategic plan is as short as possible.
  2. After the plan is in place, schedule time at least monthly to review progress on the plan. Be sure that your leadership team discusses any initiatives that are behind schedule and that they understand why, asking what the team can do to help get the initiative back on track.
  3. Collect data and look at metrics on your strategic projects to tell you whether the strategies being deployed are working or not. Are they achieving the goals for the organization they were intended to? Get off strategies that are seeming to be duds and strengthen resource commitment to strategies that are indeed moving the organization toward its vision. (visit our blog post Building Effective Strategic Planning Metrics for steps on how to set up effective metrics.)
  4. Keep your plan active and accurate by making regular revisions. Strategic plans can rarely be implemented exactly as laid out, and revisions indicate that you are actively working the plan and refining it.
  5. Make sure your plan stays realistic. Frequently, management teams will overreach (it’s part of the “getting excited” phenomena) and then as they go through the year, projects often are added to their agenda. Assess what is due on the strategic plan alongside new initiatives at your monthly meetings in order to assure you aren’t building unrealistic expectations of what is truly possible to achieve.
  6. Assure that the incentives in the organization drive efforts toward achieving your strategic plan. Does your plan emphasize developing existing client relationships, but your bonus structure promotes finding new clients? Make sure strategic efforts are rewarded.

We emphasize a mid-course correction for our planning clients – a time to sit down as a team halfway through the planning year and reassess what is working and what is not.  Many revisions as well as a surge in energy and motivation comes out of such a meeting. What’s worked for your organization to maintain strategic momentum? We would love to hear about your experiences – whether successes or otherwise. E-mail us to share your thoughts.

Bill Dann