It can feel like you have done enough if you create an ambitious and high level strategic plan. However, it is in the implementation planning phase that the rubber hits the road. By naming who needs to do what by when, it puts individuals and teams “on the hook” for staying on course with the strategic plan for the next 12-18 months.
Connecting strategy to action
Strategic planning gets criticized for being disconnected from the daily work and pressures of the organization. This disconnect can often result in strategic plans gathering dust; being brought out – if they emerge at all – as a way to reflect backwards on what has happened since the plan was written. For the strategic plan to live in the daily life of the organization – to inform choices and create forward momentum – you need an implementation plan.
We works with organizations to ensure their implementation plan is both useful and transformative and we don’t take a cookie-cutter approach. Some design principles include the following:
- Work through existing structures: to work efficiently and effectively, the work is done through existing staff and management structures, with the leadership team driving the process, even while some of those may change.
- Start with the end in mind: working backwards from the long-term strategic goals creates a roadmap that will keep the organization’s work aligned with the new direction.
- Measure what matters: good decisions and organizational focus are driven by good data. The implementation plan helps clarify metrics, standards and the process for evaluation.
- Team ownership: by being involved in designing the specific actions, timelines, milestones and accountabilities, teams will understand the plan and what they will need to do to carry it out.
- Cross-department integration: collaboration and coordination in the planning process will deliver the result you want and model the behavior that is needed to carry out the plan.
- Have the tough conversations: bringing the strategic goals down to the ground will create stress and potentially conflict about what it means. This is the time to work through these tough issues, make good choices and make sure they don’t derail progress later on.