McKinley Principal Suzanna Kelley, MBA, FAIA, shares her unique insights on the right steps to take to guarantee an effective strategic plan implementation.
At McKinley, we work with a diverse group of associations and have found that organization leaders spend a lot of time and energy developing a strategic plan. Yet, they don’t always put an equal amount of emphasis on execution.
This leads to many strategic plans to sit idle and go nowhere. Staff become frustrated and member leaders are puzzled until it’s time to begin the next plan. They tell themselves, “this time, it will be different.” We suggest using a roadmap to truly make a difference.
Be clear on where you are going.
It’s important to have a clear vision from leadership. When executives share their vision with staff, they empower them to weave it into their department’s goals.
Analyze the program portfolio with a focus on organizational stability.
Most associations have a lot going on at any given moment. To make better decisions on future investments, it’s essential to take a simplified approach that creates clarity around key drivers of value in the organization.
Establish strategic direction through multi-year planning.
Determine how you can re-position your resources over time. With the ultimate outcomes in mind, you can work backward to determine your plan.
Constantly assess the environment in order to course-correct quickly.
Staying up to speed on research surrounding programs and services gives you a better understanding of member preferences and insights into what competitors are doing. Stay tuned into stakeholder and partner needs and incorporate those preferences into your multi-year plan to maintain relevance.
Be flexible, iterate and adapt.
Organizational agility is the ability to sense and react to changes in the environment through a deliberate and openminded process. Actively engage your senior team and staff to keep a pulse on evolving landscapes and stay ahead of industry shifts.
Rely on data and metrics for objective progress points.
Our culture’s obsession with metrics can lead us to experience analysis paralysis. Go beyond typical key performance indicators and measure qualitative data for a full view of where you are making an impact.
Work effectively across teams.
It’s difficult to slow down, engage other groups, and genuinely welcome new perspectives. But when multiple team members work together toward common objectives that prioritize the organization, great things will happen.
Embrace learning from failure and be willing to share those lessons with others.
Get comfortable with failing so that you can incorporate your experience into your next stage of the plan. Create time and space to share lessons learned so others don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Keeping these lessons in mind while building your strategic plan will embolden your staff with confidence and ensure the longevity of your plan. Stay tuned for a deeper look at this groundwork when we elaborate on each step as part of our 2020 strategic planning series.