By M. Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant
Strategic Planning is a process, not an event. It consists of a series of analyses and decisions which end up with an actionable strategic plan. Coming out of the strategies are a series of actions which need to be carried out, either now or later. In an earlier article, we discussed Time to Start Planning for Growth – Step One: Analysis, and in a second article we asked, “Will We Be Ready to Take Advantage of the Improving Economy As It Arrives?”
In the first article, we discussed most of the overall process of getting your company ready for the improving business climate now slowly arriving in the USA. We analyzed the current situation, reviewing what our customers really want and need. We reviewed what we are good at doing and what our competition does well.
In the second article, we reviewed the actual process of developing a strategic plan, from incorporating our analyses to determining our strategies. Based on those strategies, we selected a group of objectives to pursue. Many of these will be handled and completed in the normal course of business. These are the responsibility of the various functions within the company, such as sales, personnel (HR), accounting, manufacturing and/or service, etc., which have the responsibility to take the actions and complete them as part of their overall jobs.
Then there are the selected objectives. We define these as tasks which will not be completed in the normal course of business without being assigned to a team responsible for completing the task. They are very important to enable the company to carry out its mission and strategies. All these objectives are specific, time-related, and necessary to move the company in the direction the strategic planning team has determined will be the course and direction for the company for the next three to five years.
Once these objectives have been selected, they are assigned to a team for the purpose of writing an action plan to complete the task. An action plan is simply a verbal road map which is designed to accomplish the objective in a timely manner, with specific steps to complete the task decided upon, responsibility for completing each step assigned and a reasonable estimate of the actual time needed for each step made, in order to develop a time-line for completion of the objective.
After accepting the action plan, the strategic planning team will schedule the individual steps of each action plan, in order of priority, so your team will concentrate on the most important objectives first.
Monitoring is key to the success of your action plans. Every month, your team must hold a short meeting to update each action plan and to schedule the day(s) on which the action steps which must be completed during the upcoming month will occur. Here, the people who will do that action step compare calendars and agree upon dates to address that step.
Execution is the key to completing an action plan, and monitoring of the action plan helps assure that the process will be followed and completed in a timely manner. If your company is having difficulty making regular progress toward completing your action plans, we can help you with the monitoring process. Contact us at: www.cssp.com and click on “Consulting” to select a consultant and send an email.
M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2011 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.