Strategic planning is a required and valuable first step activity to help organizations achieve their dreams. Yet, a strategic plan by itself will not get an organization to the desired future vision. Achievements are the result of implementation.

Although this seems simple, often organizations overlook the importance of planning to implement. I’ve helped countless nonprofit and government organizations plan for the future. These organizations are run by visionary leaders who understand that “failing to plan, is planning to fail.”  They invest in their future by regular strategic planning sessions and retreats to cultivate an organization’s vision and lay the foundation for the future At the end of the day the team is excited and energized by the future vision.

Yet, when I follow up six months later, only about 30% of these organizations have succeeded with their strategic plan implementation and experienced positive organizational change and results. The other 70% still intend to get to their plans, but as of now they sit on the shelf.

The defining factor between these two groups is that 70% of leaders forget to implement. Often the dreamers and planners are not the implementers. Successful leaders recognize when implementation is not their strength. They acknowledge this about themselves and ensure their strategic plans include a plan to delegate implementation to those who are natural implementers.

There are two components to a strategic planning process that leads to results. The first is to construct a powerful strategic plan (for more information read Seven Steps to Strategic Planning).  The next step is to develop a plan for implementation.

Follow these four practical steps the next time you engage in strategic planning to ensure implementation.

  1. Delegate each action step. Assign a point person who is responsible for each individual action step.
  2. Establish a deadline to complete this action step. Set a challenging, yet realistic deadline to have each action step completed.
  3. Follow-up. Plan and schedule your future follow-up meetings immediately after the strategic planning session. These meetings will be used to get together with the action item owner and review progress.
  4. Celebrate success. Once each action item has been completed, regardless of how big or small, send a notification to the whole planning group or organization and celebrate the success. This enforces your commitment to the strategic plan and motivates the other staff to continue with their implementation.

Include these simple, yet overlooked steps in your next strategic planning session and see how much faster success occurs.

Want more information on how to increase funding, morale, positive press, and organizational impact?  Join the Achieving Excellence Community and receive our free eBook, Ten Tips to Open Doors to More Grants (and Other Funding):  Overcoming Common Mistakes of Outcomes Measurement. Are you interested in assistance with your next strategic plan and customized solutions to measure and evaluate your impact? Measurement Resources is here to help! Contact us today for your free 20-minute strategy session.

Sheri Chaney Jones, President
Measurement Resources Company
January 2013