The Strategic Plan is Finished– Now What?

How often do you hear colleagues lament about the hours of hard work they put into developing their company’s strategic plan only to see the finished product placed on a shelf to gather dust? Sadly, that is the way that most strategic plans are used. They make great door stops, paperweights, and bookends. They usually do not make great blueprints for organizational decision-making and goal-setting even though they are designed to do just that. strategic enrollment management

One of the reasons this happens so often is that the world moves so fast that nothing written on paper seems valid the next day. Changes in the economy, our markets, our staffing, and the world of business in general all too often puts us into a reactionary mode rather than a planning mode.

The truth of the matter is that the strategic plan, when done well, can provide the guiding light necessary to stay focused and to make sound decisions when the daily pressures may take us off course. The strategic plan is not a static document that once committed to paper remains unchangeable and static. Actually, the strategic plan should be on every manager’s desk, read by all staff, and used to keep the big picture in the forefront of the leadership vision. Here are some tips on making this happen.

1. Begin the planning process when the stated outcome that the strategic plan will always be a draft. This means that the planning team will continue to meet during the year to update the planning data and assumptions and to see if the plan is being implemented. If not, the planning team needs to know why.

2. The top leadership of the organization must be personally committed to working the strategic plan and spending time at each executive team meeting to review the progress of the plan and the ability of the organization to achieve the goals stated in the plan.

3. When it becomes evident that something has changed and a particular goal in the plan cannot be accomplished the plan must be updated to reflect current conditions.

4. Managers need to review the plan frequently to determine if the strategies identified to achieve the goals are working. If the goal for a college is to enroll five hundred new students in the fall semester and the strategy is to increase marketing at the local movie theatre, it is important to measure the outcomes to see if the strategy is working or if the goal is realistic.

Without the plan in place which goals is the organization following? Which strategies are being followed to achieve the goals? How does the organization know how well things are going? The strategic plan allows all staff to rally around some key focal points for a specified period of time. When all members of an organization are working together, sharing the goals and the strategies, it is easier to achieve the alignment necessary to be successful.

Let’s each of us go back to our organizations and dust off the strategic plan and read it again. You will find the best thinking about how to move the organization forward is contained inside those pages and a goldmine of positive actions are made possible when making this important document a key tool in the daily management of an organization.