4 Steps to Save Your Strategic Plan From Killing the Team With Boredom

Most strategic plans are boring and useless.  Often they’re build with the help of a consultant.  Management piles into a room for a couple of days and emerges with a binder filled with paper.  Paper that no one ever looks at again.

But everyone feels better, because they know that a business needs to have a strategic plan, right?

However, your plan should not be boring.  Nor should it be long.  In fact, it should fit on one page.  Here’s what you need to do if you want an engaging plan that is used by everyone, and alive in the organization:

  1. Involve everyone in making it
  2. Make it fit on one page
  3. Review parts of it regularly
  4. Update it every quarter

Step #1: Involve everyone in making it

There is going to be zero interest in your plan if a wide group of people aren’t involved in building it.  Here’s a principle of life:  ‘People embrace what they help create.’

If you’re not including a wide swath of people in building your plan, you know you’re on the wrong track.

Master plans that track everyone’s goals for the next five years only work on paper.  The point of strategic planning is to have conversations throughout the organization on future direction.  You’re engaging in the exercise to have debates and arguments, and finally getting everyone headed in the same direction.

Half the battle is simply getting everyone singing off the same song sheet.

Step #2: Make it fit on one page

Most strategic plans fit on ten or twenty or even two hundred pages.  The result is that no one has any idea what the company goals are, or what part they play in achieving them.  Consider this survey of 23,000 people from Harris Interactive:

  • Only 37% of respondents knew the company’s goals
  • Only 20% were enthusiastic about those goals
  • Only 20% could see how they could support those goals
  • Only !5% felt empowered to work toward those goals
  • Only 20% fully trusted the company they worked for

This shows that most people have no clue what the company is trying to achieve, or how they play a part in the company’s success.

A big part of bridging that gap is to make the plan fit on one page.  It’s much more difficult to make a one page plan than a 20 page plan.  This is because people are forced to make choices about what’s really important.  Multi-page plans include everything, and mean nothing.

Here’s a short eLearning course on how to build a one page strategic plan:

https://learning.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/courses/one-page-plan

Step #3: Review parts of it regularly

If the plan isn’t referred to regularly, it will just fade away.  It won’t crash, it will just be forgotten.  Then one day someone will ask about it, and you’ll pull it out and realize that you haven’t looked at it for six months.

Once per week, you should be talking about a part of the plan.  Discuss your core values.  Talk about your brand promises and what makes them special.  Remind people what your company purpose is, or why your BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) is important.

If you aren’t talking about it regularly, it isn’t going to make a difference in your organization.

Step #4: Update it every quarter

For a plan to be (and stay alive) it has to be looked at, reviewed, and updated regularly.  I recommend taking key team members away for a day or half-day every quarter to discuss and update the plan.

Try:

  • Scoring each one year goal out of 10. Are you on track to hitting them?
  • Scoring each core value out of 10. Are your values alive in the company?
  • Setting new 90 day goals so you’ll be sure to achieve your one-year goals.

In summary:

If you want to get people excited about your strategic plan, remember

  1. Involve everyone in making it
  2. Make it fit on one page
  3. Review parts of it regularly
  4. Update it every quarter

Additional resources

Thanks for reading this article on making an exciting strategic plan.  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

  • Building a one-page strategic plan (eLearning course that includes templates and cheat sheets)

https://learning.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/courses/one-page-plan

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