CEO Message: Feeling Accomplished – Building a Strong Strategic Plan
“I was actually sad when it ended.”
Perhaps you said this at the end of your strategic planning process too! Perhaps, like me, you really enjoy strategic planning: The laser focus on measurable goals that will advance an organization’s mission, the board and staff building a shared vision of the future, and who doesn’t love sticky notes? A well-facilitated process leads to a solid strategic plan and a sense of accomplishment, even sadness, when it concludes. But board approval is not the end of the process.
It’s the beginning…
A solid strategic plan is a roadmap. It sets an organization on a course and provides a set of specific directions for the first 500 miles. Like a good road trip, a strategic plan requires frequent stops – opportunities to refuel, recharge, and sometimes, take in the view. Yes, you can set the cruise control for a while, but unfortunately too many organizations take their hand off the wheel when the planning is done.
The new year presents a new opportunity to recommit to your strategic plan goals. If it has been more than a month since you looked at your plan, it’s time to dig it out. Make sure you have a plan to implement your plan:
Leaders: When you talk about your vision for the organization, frame it in the context of the most important priorities outlined in your strategic plan. Develop a dashboard to track progress toward goals and key objectives and share it with your board at least quarterly. Align individual staff goals with the plan so that everyone can see how their work contributes to the achievement of organizational priorities.
Board members: Keep the strategic plan on the agenda. Align committee work with strategic goals so board and staff are driving in the same direction. Ask the executive director what resources are needed for implementation and make them a priority.
Your goals shouldn’t change as much as the tactics you employ to achieve them. Dedicate time to review your plan annually, so you can set the course for the next leg of your journey. Consider a half-day board retreat annually to revisit the plan and make sure your organization is on track to achieve the goals you set. Your strategic plan is a dynamic tool for defining and measuring forward progress. Do what’s necessary to keep it alive!
Strategic planning requires an up-front investment of time on the part of board and staff. Don’t risk being sad because the plan was never implemented.