Those of you who are already users of our Vision Navigation® planning system know that we advocate for using the plan chart as a communication tool. Below are the best practices for effectively using your strategic plan to communicate with a wide range of constituents. Utilize one or more best practices to gain the most from the time and expense you put into strategic planning.
- Maintaining Trust of Board of Directors
The year-end targets in a strategic plan represent a contract of sorts between the CEO and the governing board. It is an agreement on what changes are needed and what can be accomplished on strategic and improvement initiatives in the coming year. Using the Chart, CEO’s can easily update the board on progress. If projects are on time, trust is maintained. If projects are behind, honesty about the causes and requests for potential changes in policy of the governing board to handle those delays also serve to maintain trust as management shows up open and transparent.
- Creating Alignment of Staff
It never ceases to amaze me how often we encounter organizations that have an active a strategic plan alongside a lack of clarity regarding direction in the minds of staff. On occasion, leadership’s lack of progress on announced strategic changes is also a source of disconnect with staff. Communication with staff on direction and progress are both facilitated using the Vision Navigation® Chart. A client whose leadership had lost complete integrity with its staff, posted their plan and updates to the plan on each floor of their facility. This commitment both spurred the management team to complete their assignments (there was no place to hide) and restored leadership integrity.
- Attracting Investment
We have seen this both in the for-profit and non-profit sectors.
- For-profits can lay out a plan for how they are going to vet (evaluate) potential ideas for growing their business. Alternative opportunities and the evaluation steps are laid out on the plan and the board can track their progress, examine the alternatives for business growth simultaneously (we employ a tool called a Priority Matrix to serve this need) and then make the best choice as to where to invest time and capital for growth.
- Non-profits have used their Vision Navigation® Chart to attract both donors and legislatures to their proposals. The advantage of a strategic plan here is that sources of funding understand what they are investing in. The Chart details outcomes that will be achieved with that funding and the timeline for their accomplishment. Rather than investing in a mission, outside sources of funding understand they are investing in a result which is a preferred value proposition. In addition, a high quality plan instills confidence in funders that management will indeed deliver on those promises.
- Communication with Stakeholders
Particularly in the non-profit sector, but increasingly with for-profits, involvement of stakeholders (e.g. stockholders, residents, customers) in the planning process is important for identifying needs/wants as well as potential sources of opposition. After the planning process is complete, share your strategic plan with those stakeholders to communicate back the decisions you reached based on their input, the path forward you have mapped out as well as progress as you go forward. All these steps are needed for effective stakeholder engagement.
Some of you may have made others uses of your plan. We would welcome hearing from you on how you are using communication to bolster your strategic plan.