GIVING LIFE TO YOUR STRATEGIC PLAN
BY ROSE KELLY
A bird’s eye view and a beating heart….
There is little point embarking on a strong Strategic Plan or planning process if you don’t regularly invest the time and resources to review the progress of your plan. There are countless ‘planning documents’ that are gathering dust on the shelf or have become a paperweight in the back office. The most common reason is that they are just that – documents.
Just as important as the planning process itself is the ongoing review process. This is your tool, or better still – your system – for keeping the Strategic Plan alive. I think of it as the beating heart of the Plan.
A solid and regular review process brings alignment between what is actually happening and what you envisioned and planned for, in a previous time. It is also a great opportunity for your team to connect or reconnect, discussing, reviewing and modifying actions and expectations – all of which have an impact on the future of your business.
If the review is conducted systematically – ie with regularity and consistency, it becomes the important ‘bird’s eye view’ of the operation. When you think about a business review, you automatically think about what is happening right now… the immediate ‘here and now’ comes into your vision. However, from a bird’s eye position, you are situated outside, looking in or down onto the business. You can also see behind you and then use that information to guide you with what you see ahead.
A strong systematic Strategic Review process uses that bird’s eye advantage to inform future success. To explain what I mean by this systematic process, let me break it into 3 easy steps:
1. Establish the protocol and expectations for the review process.
Have a regular pattern around the review process – when reviews will occur, who will attend, how long they will run for and the information or data required to be brought to the review.
Your Strategic Plan should have identified your milestones and these can be used to plan, document and communicate your expectations.
2. Outline and Communicate the process for the Review Meeting
A short, energetic and focused meeting designed to review all of the key elements of the Plan is at the heart of a healthy and dynamic review process. This is not a ‘doing’ meeting. Rather it should be geared towards the specific corporate goals and future achievements outlined in the business plan.
A good rule of thumb is to make it 20% reflection on what has happened and 80% focused on how that will inform or drive the future. In other words, keep it future focused.
This part of the process means that anyone with responsibility for a particular aspect of the business plan will need to be prepared to share information and results and speak about them to the group. Preparation is the key here and could even involve circulation of reports prior to your review meeting.
3. Managing the Meeting / Review Process
The key questions in the review should be…
- What did we expect of ourselves in this period (most commonly 90 days)
- How have we performed over that period?
- How does that compare with our goals? In other words are we on target to achieve our plan?
- What do we need to do in the next 90 days to ensure our results match or exceed our targets?
- Do we need help to get there?
The answers to the last 2 questions form the basis of your next 90 day Action Plan, and should be the emphasis of your meeting… remember keep it future focused. At this point, reflect again on the bird’s eye view. It gives you and the team the foresight to think about what is coming and how to tackle it through adaptation, new learnings and different resources… maybe a combination of all three.
Your review process needs to become the beating heart of your strategic plan and following these simple rules can ensure it does. Stick to your guidelines, provide gentle but firm encouragement and be innovative and enthusiastic about the future. You can’t go wrong.
If you would like more assistance with developing a Strategic Plan so you can keep the heart beating in your business, contact me and I’ll show you how.