If your firm has ever engaged in the process of strategic planning, you know that the planning retreat is just one step in the process. Firms spend precious time and resources preparing for a planning retreat, then spend time away from the office to attend the retreat and create the plan. Everyone leaves the retreat with a new vision of what the firm can be. They are charged up. They are enthusiastic. Then Monday hits.
All too often, the strategic planning process produces a plan that ends up collecting dust on a shelf. The following guidelines will help ensure that the plan is implemented.
1. When conducting the planning process, involve the people who will be responsible for implementing the plan. Planning and implementation often take place in stages, involving the leaders first, then bringing the rest of the firm on board to refine the overall plan and its action plans.
2. Ensure the plan is realistic. Continue asking planning participants “Is this realistic? Can we really do this?”
3. Organize the overall strategic plan into smaller action plans, including an action plan for each goal or objective. Make sure the action plans specify who is doing what and by when. The action plans should specify:
• The steps to achieve each objective to be accomplished
• How each objective contributes to the firm’s overall strategic vision
• What specific results must be accomplished to make the objective a reality
• How those results will be measured
• When the results will be achieved (or timelines for each objective)
• Who is responsible for overseeing the completion of each objective
4. The action plans should include clear, 90-Day Goals to capitalize on the momentum coming out of the retreat.
5. Build in regular reviews (monthly, quarterly) to monitor the implementation of the plan.
6. Translate the actions of the strategic plan into job descriptions and personnel performance reviews to create accountability for everyone involved in implementing the plan.
7. Communicate progress on the plan. Celebrate your success! This is an important piece of the implementation puzzle. Be sure to acknowledge people for their efforts in bringing the plan to life.