leadership

The Anatomy of an Effective Strategic Plan

What is a strategic plan? In short, “a strategic plan defines the business the organization¬† intends to be in, the kind of organization it wants to be, and the kind of economic and non-economic contribution it will make to its stakeholders, employees, customers and community.”

To create an effective strategic plan an organization’s leaders must first clearly understand their business and what business they really want to be in. They must also conduct and have SWOT Analysis, customer research (including non-customers), economic, government (industry laws and regulations data), and technology (current and forecasting trends) accurate data available.

Once this information is available and carefully analyzed, leaders must discuss their intention to shift strategy with their team. All company departments should be given the opportunity to share ideas and express concerns. After the Voice of Employee has been acquired the strategic plan can begin.

An effective strategic plan is composed of the following:

  • Vision Statement
  • Mission Statement
  • Key Customer Value Factors
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Visual KPI Metrics
  • Contingency and Preventative Plans

To be effective, a strategic plan must be visual and are not meant to be paper documents that sit on shelves nor Word or PowerPoint documents that are only seen once. The CEO (top management) must also gain support from respected and persuasive key personnel that will drive buy-in to the new strategic plan and discourage opposition. Effective leaders align the strategic plan with daily business activities by translating what needs to be accomplished into how it will be accomplished. They give each department clear responsibilities and performance expectations instead of sending out a memo company-wide that this year they want to increase revenue by $10 million. In short, strategic goals are distributed in small batches.

Effective leaders ensure employees are given clear responsibilities and performance expectations; and are given timely rewards for achieving goals. They also ensure that the strategic plan contains clear objectives, provides and utilizes measures of performance, clear due dates and is visual.

Culture Engagement Starts with Top Management

Creating a Word or PowerPoint Culture reference material and distributing to employees on on-boarding day and briefly talking about it in your Monday morning meeting because you feel your employees are not “getting it” is not going to drive any significant results. Human Resources is not the captain when it comes to engaging employees in the company’s culture. Culture is top management responsibility.

Effective leaders are known to practice and support their culture on a daily basis. They integrate visual controls and visual KPI Metrics so that quality, productivity, cost goals and objectives are visibly clear. To quote Dwight Eisenhower, “They never listen to what I said; they always watch what I do.”

For example, if a Procurement Manager sees the CEO ignoring client calls when the culture document states, “Serve the Client”, it would now seem that the culture document is void because the CEO is not practicing it. The Procurement Manager now thinks its okay to ignore vendors/clients because the CEO does.

Leaders should engage with their employees everyday instead of only appearing when there is a problem. By actively participating in all the departments of the company and listening to employees, leaders can use the Voice of the Employee to identify bottlenecks and improve overall employee satisfaction. They also include all employees in the decision-making process by making strategic plans visual and accessible to all employees; and ensure their actions correspond with the company’s written vision and mission statements.

The fault lies with leadership when the employee does not know what she/he is supposed to do, does not know what is expected of them, has no means to assess if the work is being doing properly, nor has the authority or means to correct the process when something is wrong. Effective leaders know the importance of translating the vision and mission of the company into daily activities. They set realistic goals for their employees and provide timely rewards to those who meet them. And offer educational and training opportunities to enhance their employees’ capabilities.