Improve your strategic planning

Four ways to move from strategic planning to strategic doing

Though most organizations have a strategic plan in place, successful implementation can be a challenge.

For many leaders, strategic planning is not a meaningful activity. They have seen plans fail and don’t see the point in planning (besides checking a box in order to appease the board/management/owner perhaps). In these organizations or departments, a plan is put together and then left on the shelf until the following year.

Other organizations have good intentions in putting together a strategic plan, but then implementation of the plan loses steam and putters out. This is often the case, as 60 to 90 percent of strategic plans fail because of poor implementation.

Here are a few ways to improve your strategic planning implementation:

  1. Focus on the few: Many organizations (especially startups) fall into the trap of trying to tackle too much in their strategic plans. While it is tempting to set 15 goals to reach in the next year, limiting your focus will bring about better results. Two to four major goals is a more manageable number that will allow your organization the necessary focus to get them done.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Make sure you and your leaders are regularly talking about the strategy and vision of the organization. So often, employees have no clear understanding of what the organization is trying to achieve. However, for employees to be fully engaged, they need to know how their job is tied to the strategy of the organization. If you are not talking about the strategy every day, how will your employees feel connected to that vision and how will they know how to help?
  3. Keep score: What gets measured gets managed, and what gets managed gets done. Are you clear in what you want to do, and have you identified key indicators to monitor your progress? Do you have meaningful metrics? Do you have key champions who will be focused on each goal? Identify champions and key metrics so that you can keep score and hold your organization accountable.
  4. Follow-up: One reason strategic plans sit on a shelf is that teams get caught up in the day to day and treat strategic planning as a one-time event. To avoid this, schedule quarterly or monthly follow-up meetings with the planning team to hold your team accountable. These regular meetings will keep you on track and allow your champions and action teams to report out on progress and metrics. As the market/environment changes, you can adjust your plan, instead of chasing a goal or action item that is no longer meaningful to the organization. A strategic plan should be a living, breathing document.

If your strategic plan is sitting on the shelf, perhaps it is time to dust it off and take a good hard look at it. See if the goals are still valuable and meaningful for the future of the organization or whether it is time to review your current plan and identify the areas you need to change direction.

If your plan has hit a road block, been derailed, lost momentum or has other strategic or implementation issues, take the time to investigate why it isn’t working and identify ways to recharge and renew the plan.

Ultimately, leaders who take the time to focus on a handful of key strategic items that are clear, communicated, monitored and reviewed will have organizations that are more productive, efficient and successful.


For more information on strategic planning, contact Marjorie Engle using the information below.

Marjorie Engle

Senior Vice President
Org. Development & Family Business Services

Marjorie Engle guides clients and their companies through executive coaching, transition and succession planning, organizational analysis, conflict management, and corporate strategy development. A specialist in assessing and developing family councils, advisory boards and boards of directors, she has extensive experience with family-owned, closely held, and public companies across many industries, as well as with not-for-profit organizations.

Marjorie holds a certificate in Family Business Advising with Fellow Status from The Family Firm Institute and is a certified coach with Family Business Partners. She is also a certified Change Leader.

Daniel White

Vice President
Org. Development & Family Business Services

Daniel White assists organizations with their organizational development needs, including strategic and operational planning, leadership development, succession and exit planning, and family business advising. He has worked with a wide range of industries, including construction, healthcare, manufacturing, banking, not-for-profits, and government organizations. He has also worked internationally as an organizational development consultant, serving organizations in Bolivia, Guatemala and Ghana. Prior to advising organizations, he worked in not-for-profit leadership and operations, directing projects with clients such as the US Department of State and the United Nations Population Fund.

Daniel serves as associate director of the Kansas Family Business Forum, hosted by Wichita State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship. He holds a certificate in Family Business Advising from The Family Firm Institute. Daniel also earned his Certified Exit Planner designation from BEI. This designation demonstrates he is qualified to provide comprehensive, professionally executed exit planning services. He has been published in Fast Company and several academic journals, and he has presented at a number of national conferences.

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