Reviving Your Strategic Plan
I was talking with a board member last week and they said the strategic
plan came back from the offsite and the consultant, but it wasn’t that helpful,
and the Chairman didn’t know what to do with it. Sound familiar?
From my perspective, it was dead on arrival, and in fact your strategic
plan for 2011 may have the same status, whether you just created it,
or it got put together 6 months ago. So what do you do? Give up on
strategic planning? Hopefully not; here’s a set of 7 suggestions
to help you revive a dead or nearly dead strategic plan.
1. First go through your existing plan with a big stamp
and check each strategic goal for the following criteria:
The stamp says, each strategic goal has to be:
1. CRITICAL (to our growth, survival, mission, management of risk)
2. ACTIONATED (and have supporting action plans)
3. SCORED (and being measured monthly or quarterly)
2. Next take a pair of scissors and be ruthless. If it isn’t critical to your business,
to your organization’s growth or survival, then cut it out, and throw it away.
It’s more likely to be a “nice to have” or what politicians would call pork barrel or
congressionally earmarked for special interest groups.
3. If you don’t know what’s critical, join the club. Most people
don’t factually know either, because we don’t have enough data or perspective.
Better get both. In fact, often we passionately pursue
placing our ideas and plans in the strategic plan mix based upon
gut instinct, “it seems right,” or proximity – “its been on my mind recently.”
Neither are good substitutes for data and good critical thinking.
4. Ok back to the reviving process. So it starts with pruning.
Prune everything away that isn’t verifiable as critical. Then check to see
if it is actionated. My term for whether it has supporting action plans
backing it up. Then check to see whether it is being scored on a scorecard
and updated monthly or quarterly. If either of those items are not in place,
fix it or throw that part of the strategic plan out. Can you hear the sounds
of the scissors trimming away?
5. Good, got that done? You’re well on your way to reviving the plan.
Before you start re-energizing what’s left, remember what your
strategic plan’s role or function is. Your strategic plan is in effect your
map of the world and checklist for how to get ahead of things so you
don’t lose a key opportunity or get run over by your competitor’s mack
truck or some other risk factor. This is true whether you start with a SWOT
analysis, or a Balanced Scorecard, or your favorite strategic planning template.
It all boils down to a way of viewing and anticipating what is or can
happen out there, and a checklist of actions to get ahead of the process.
6. OK, one more thing in terms of reviving your plan. Quick question.
A moment of introspection and truth telling. How many of your
strategic goals for 2010 would have passed the inspector with the
stamp at the top of this blog? I say that, because less is more and most
organizations aren’t prepared to actively manage and use a large,
multi-goal strategic plan. If you didn’t do it last year, part of reviving
this year’s plan is to keep it really manageable. Only include goals
in the plan for which you will do all three steps.
7. Ok, final suggestion. Make it singular. Revive your plan one
goal at a time. Pick one goal that’s critical and build an action plan,
create a scorecard and populate the scorecard with the relevant
data and thresholds based upon the last 12 months… before you
go on to the next goal.
Regardless of where you are in your fiscal year, with a new strategic plan
or one you’ve been working with for a few quarters, it is common for
management teams to describe their strategic plan as pretty inactive
and in need of reviving. And when it comes to strategy less is more,
that’s even more true when reviving a strategy. So keep pruning until
it just represents what’s critical to your business, and is supported by
an action plan (that’s really a plan) and a scorecard. And give us a
call if you need some help giving CPR to your strategic plan.