Improving Strategic Plans
Most organizations have weak Strategic Plans. It is easy to lose focus if your Mission, Vision, Values, and Strategic Goals fall into the trap of being a politically correct, public relations piece. The solution is to re-focus the effort on how the front-line staff uses the content of the Strategic Plan.
There are many definitions of a strategic plan. Interestingly, there are more definitions of strategic planning than strategic plan – probably because many of the soft people who facilitate them believe the process is more fluid like a verb rather than a noun.
According to Merriam-Webster, Strategic is defined as “of great importance within an integrated whole or to a planned effect.” Plan is defined as “a detailed formulation of a program of action.” There is nothing in either terms about dynamic, public relations, external communications, or how it makes you feel. In fact, terms like great importance, integrated, planned effect (outcome), detailed, and program imply that there is something tougher and more rigid about a Strategic Plan than most organizations think.
Management systems are defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO) as “the way in which an organization manages the interrelated parts of its business in order to achieve its objectives.” Like the definition of strategic, those pesky concepts of integration and outcomes stand out. ISO goes on to say, “these objectives can relate to a number of different topics, including product or service quality, operational efficiency, environmental performance, health and safety in the workplace, and many more.” This sounds like some of the components of a Strategic Plan.
Strategic Plans are the single piece that flanges the policy board to the staff that manages the organization. Whether it is capital planning, operations budgeting, business case evaluations, root cause failure analysis, or organization structure, the staff should be looking to the Strategic Plan to fully understand what is of “great importance to the integrated whole.”
Make your Strategic Plan better by making it understandable and relevant to the front-line staff who manage the organization. It takes more time and more money. More importantly, the results are actually useable.
JD Solomon Inc facilitates Strategic Plans for units of government, private-sector businesses, and not-for-profit organizations. Our focus is on producing useful Strategic Plans that add effectiveness to managing the organization. We pledge to never use a cheap facilitator from the local community college that asks “how does it make you feel?”