Whenever I work with a team on strategic planning eventually someone says,
“Yeah, well, this is all well and good, but halfway through the year we’ll have forgotten all of this and be working on like a million OTHER things…”
The sad part is, they aren’t wrong.
They’ve likely seen that pattern played out a bunch of times with different teams over the years. We make New Year’s resolutions, and we abandon them by the end of February. We create project plans with tremendous enthusiasm only to find them on our computer a year later…
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are four ways to keep your strategic decisions alive in your company all year long.
#1: Make someone accountable
When you make the plan, decide as a team who’s responsible for that goal. Who are we going to celebrate when it’s a success? Who are we going to yell at if it’s abandoned?
There has to be someone responsible for each goal (and it shouldn’t be the business owner).
#2: Plan a fixed time to review progress
Do you have management team meetings? (You should.) Pick one meeting a month and make it a point to focus on reviewing the initiatives that you’ve agreed to. During that time you should talk about the progress made, the obstacles encountered, and what you have learned. It’s OK to decide as a team to abandon or change direction on these initiatives — just make it a conscious team choice.
#3: Create Public Tracking
If, as a management team, you are committing to 3 – 5 key initiatives for the quarter, or year, that’s worth talking to your team about. Have an “all hands” meeting and tell everyone what your focus is and why. Publicize the milestones. Then review those at least quarterly at an “all hands” meeting. Put a big poster on the wall, track it on the “Intranet”, however you keep things visible, make your initiatives a part of it.
#4: Budget money, time, and staff to support it
If your initiative has expenses, budget those. If you need people’s time, assign people to it. Most initiatives die from starvation. If there are folks assigned to it, and they have a budget and time to accomplish it, they are more likely to succeed.
BONUS: Say no to newer, shinier things
The biggest threat to your strategic plan is the idea you have next week, or the book you read next month… Leaders tend to have a lot of ideas, and we’re comfortable starting new things. The reason you did this strategic plan is so that you can say “no” to those distractions. Empower your team to say no to you when you come up with those ideas.
The bottom line is that your whole team agreed that these are the most important things for us to accomplish in order to grow our business. It’s up to you to make sure they are not forgotten. Which of these tactics are you going to use?