action plans

The “Un-Strategic Plan”

Photo by  Med Badr Chemmaoui  on  Unsplash

Mention the words, ‘strategic’ and ‘plan’ in the same sentence, and many people conjure up the image of a high cost, low value exercise.  Often those plans have included the commensurate three-ring binder—the fatter the binder, the more expensive the plan. 

Many of us have also had the chance to suffer through a strategic planning ‘retreat’; a day-long exercise rich in brainstorming, flipcharts and sticky dots, but short on Objectives, Action Plans, and Follow Through. 

Hopefully those feel-good but unproductive planning experiences have not deterred you from tackling a planning exercise in your own business.  In every case, it’s not the concept of strategic planning that’s flawed, but rather the process used to conduct the exercise.  Actually those negative experiences can inform us on how to better conduct an effective planning exercise.

In reality, effective strategic planning is not a yearly event, but rather an on-going undertaking in your business.  It just makes common sense when you think about it…we need to be strategic every day of the year, and it’s the well designed plan that’s referred to on a weekly if not daily basis, that guides us in our decisions.  

How to Give Backbone to Your Business Objectives

Photo by  Ant Rozetsky  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash

There’s no greater tool for improving the performance of an organization than setting well-thought out goals.  Goals give individuals working together on a team a common target to aim towards.  Well written and developed organizational goals provide the guiding structure that teams and individuals need to set objectives for the important outcomes in their respective areas.

The value of goals is diminished however, if a comprehensive Action Plan for “how to” accomplish the goal is not also created.  This is where you put the ‘meat on the bones’ of the goal setting process.  Action Plans break goals & objectives into bite-sized doable actions, which makes it easier to get started and helps avoid getting overwhelmed. 

The key to developing an Action Plan is to have clarity on the deliverable.  The deliverable is what you have when you are done.  It might be something like: “Create Board of Advisors by the end of the second quarter.”  Once the deliverable is clear, the Action Plan needs to indicate the specific steps that need to be taken, by whom and by when. 

For instance, before an Advisory Board is created, a business owner might want to first do research into best practices, talk with business owners who already have a board, and talk to her attorney to determine any legal ramifications.  Each of those steps needs to be defined, given a deadline and assigned to one individual.  Ideally, every major business objective has a corresponding Action Plan.  Well written objectives which are backed-up with detailed Action Plans provide the structure a leader needs to grow their business.