Bill’s recent post on the internal assessment has spurred us on to discuss other key elements for a solid strategic plan. Our last post looked more closely at the strategic assessment. In this post we focus on taking the internal and strategic projects defined in the two assessments and turning them into a set of complete, usable project plans, allowing leadership to get measurable results on their strategic plan.
A common reason many strategic plans sit on the shelf in the CEO’s office is that they stop at the big picture, theoretical level. Often they include an inspiring mission and vision, as well as solid strategies to achieve the vision. The missing piece is a specific, sound approach to implement those strategies within the day to day work of the organization, i.e., a clear plan for rolling out each of the projects .
There are two keys tools to get this done. The first is the project plan template. An effective project plan template includes the following:
- Year-end target: Often a strategic initiative or improvement project is a complex, multi-year project. The first step in “eating the elephant” is to identify exactly how far you need to be at the end of this planning year to stay on track with the project. This becomes your year-end target.
- Challenges: Each project has obstacles that will make achievement more difficult. For example, you may be missing needed expertise in software or certain skills in your staff. Create the list of challenges to achieving your year-end target. Then assure each challenge is addressed as you plan out the steps of the project.
- Milestone outcomes: Once you have your year-end target and you know the challenges, you are ready to identify the steps to take to get there. At PGS, we break those steps into quarterly outcomes. Exactly what do you need to accomplish in each quarter of the upcoming year to reach your target and address each of the challenges?
- Accountability: The most overlooked and perhaps most important piece on the project plan is accountability. A member of the leadership team needs to be assigned to each one of the outcomes in your project plan. Additional staff can be brought on to help with completion of an outcome, but the individual assigned is ultimately accountable to the team for the work’s successful completion.
- Metric: The last piece is a measure of progress. How do you know that the strategic initiative is moving the organization toward the vision or that the internal project is improving the organization? Metrics. A good metric measures the impact of the project. If you find that you are not reaching the intended goal of the project, problem solve and make necessary adjustments to the outcomes.
The 2nd tool needed to turn a strategic plan into a valuable management tool is a visual roadmap that shows the work being done concisely on one page. At PGS, we use a Vision Navigation chart to display and track progress on all the projects in the plan. Regardless of the visual format you choose, what is important is that you have a tool that moves the strategic plan out of a bound book and into a document that makes it easy to see what is being worked on and the progress made. It will keep your strategic plan an integral part of your organization throughout the year.
Questions or thoughts? Email us. We would love to start a conversation.