Over the years, businesses have embraced the fact that defining and having a strategic plan is an important component to long-term success. If you do not plan your direction, you cannot take control of your future. Many businesses are starting to be more aggressive in their strategic timetables. In addition to looking ahead three to five years and deciding where the organization needs and wants to be, more and more companies are becoming very aggressive in their short-term strategic analysis and review. With all the economic changes and uncontrollable outside distractions, looking through the short-term strategic lens more frequently is required.
Your business’ strategic plan is a living and fluid document. It needs to be visited and revisited in order to create the flexibility necessary to make required course corrections while achieving organizational goals. A strong strategic plan identifies critical success factors, and when implemented, those critical success factors will create organizational alignment, surface challenges before they become fires, and be the catalyst for breakthrough performance.
A must-have for successful strategic planning is an operational dashboard. Just engaging in the strategic planning thought process and laying out the plan is not enough. The management team needs an operational dashboard to measure and evaluate current outcomes and data by which decisions can be made on a daily basis. A strategic plan that sits in a drawer or on a bookshelf to be revisited a year or two down the road is virtually useless. Taking the critical success factors from the plan and creating a dashboard gives management the business intelligence necessary to make solid decisions and to manage course corrections when they are required.
As important as it is for management to have this working document, it is also important that a version of the dashboard be shared and communicated to all employees. Every contributor in the organization has an interest in the progress and success of the company. The more they know about the organization’s objectives and feel part of the big picture, the more they will take their contribution to the success of the plan seriously. With rare exception, most people want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Communicating the strategy and creating alignment in your organization is one of the most important things you can do beyond formulating the plan. Linking organizational goals with employee goals creates a driving force towards results. Alignment will make it much easier for you to push the organization in the right direction.
Creating alignment is significantly linked to employee’s buy-in to the plan. Spending time to help your employees see how the future success of the organization impacts their career path and their personal success is critical. Communicate the details of the plan in a way that is easy to understand and reinforce your message often. Positive traction towards results is accomplished by frequently communicating and reinforcing the plan. The daily contributions of your employees will actually make the strategic plan a reality.
Let them know where you want the organization to go so they can help take it there!