KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION
Suppose our organization thoroughly develops all five products of strategic planning, completes the process, and comes up with a strategic plan. Everyone has the best intentions but when we get back to our units, we are overwhelmed with daily details. Soon it’s “business as usual,” the plan sits on the shelf, and before we know it, another year has passed. However, this need not happen.
The three major keys to successful strategic planning and implementation are commitment, credibility, and communication.
Up-front commitment by the leaders must include an adherence to the full and thorough process of strategic planning. There must also be a commitment to implementing the strategies recommended by the strategic planning committee.
The leaders should implement programs and services and commit allocations to meet the objectives of the strategic plan at a level that is “doable” for the organization and level of activity. As one person has put it, “To commit to plan, is to commit to change.”
A strategic planning committee researches, collects input, and makes recommendations. But, it is up to member of the organization to implement the recommendations.
Credibility is created and maintained by following these three guidelines: representative participation, adherence to the complete process, and clear documentation.
The strategic planning committee should have representatives from all areas of the organization and adhere to the steps of the process. While the actual logistics of research and implementing the plan can be tailored to the available resources, all five products should be carefully developed and evaluated.
The committee should document all of its research and activities to serve as the basis for the strategic plan and its background materials. It will also serve as a clear record of the committee’s activities open for all to see and evaluate. There should be nothing exclusive or secret about strategic planning. It should be open to all for review and input.
Input, feedback, and understanding are crucial at every step. A key concept to remember is that strategic planning is a cooperative and participatory process. Everyone should have input and, ideally, everyone should feel a sense of ownership over the final plan. Such personal commitment will facilitate the implementation process.
It is important to explain the principles and goals of strategic planning to everyone in the organization. We need to assure each person that although he or she may not be on the committee, everyone can have input and evaluate the recommendations. It is up to the staff and committees to determine how to fulfill each objective. The strategic planning committee makes general recommends on what they think should be done. The leadership, operating committees, and staff determine how it will be done.
An additional aid to implement the strategic plan is to create an integrated system by which the strategic plan becomes the “benchmark” (measuring stick) for progress in our organization. It then becomes a system of accountability.
The best way to set up an integrated system is for the directors to accept the strategic plan and make the mission statement part of the directives. The strategic plan can then become the context from which programs and services flow.
Strategic planning is the key to assuring that our organization is prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.