Three Areas of Focus to Enhance Strategic Planning

posted by WMC

Over the years of involvement with strategic planning, I have found focusing in three activities can make a significant difference to support the success of the strategic plan:

Over the years of involvement with strategic planning, I have found focusing in three activities can make a significant difference to support the success of the strategic plan:

1. Achieving clarity regarding goals and objectives,
2. Completing a thorough scan before defining strategies, and
3. Applying a monitoring plan.

Goals and Objectives – Both are important and related.

Leadership Strategies, Inc. describes goals as “broad long-term aims that define accomplishments of the mission”, and objectives as “specific, quantifiable, relevant and realistic targets that are used to measure the accomplishment of a goal over a period of time.”

In other words, goals describe the strategic intent of the organization, and objectives are strategic targets.

If an organization sets goals but no objectives, they will not know where they are at, what they need to do more of, less of, or do differently. It will also be unclear if the goal has been attained.

If objectives are set but not goals, the organization’s members may fail to understand the bigger picture, or lack clarity regarding why an objective has been set and its importance.

Scan – Get really clear.

Taking time to complete a thorough scan relative to each objective, will help ensure the right strategies and action plans are identified and pursued.

While many clients are good at identifying possible or existing barriers or challenges to achieving an objective, fewer are successful at clearly defining, or agreeing on, the factors that are critical for success. These success factors are conditions or broad activities required to achieve an objective.

Once the key barriers and success factors have been clearly identified, strategies and action plans can be defined.

Monitoring Plan – Make it important, urgent and top of mind.

The third area of focus sounds pretty simple and it is; develop a good monitoring plan. Yet, despite the best of intentions, the hard work invested in developing the strategic plan is not always supported with the necessary follow-up to monitor how reality is unfolding.

There are basically three questions that need to be answered when monitoring the strategic plan: Did we do what we said we were going to do? Are we making the progress we intended? Are we going in the right direction?

Also, remember to share feedback regularly with organization members to keep them informed, focused, and engaged in contributing to the achievement of the strategic plan.
Whether you are embarking on a strategic planning exercise or have a plan that needs monitoring, consider how you can enhance the chances of achieving your strategic plan by focusing time and attention where it can make a significant difference.

Emma Bloch-Hansen is a Management Consultant with WMC. She brings over 25 years of facilitation experience and a proven track record for supporting clients in addressing important decisions. Emma has an inclusive and engaging style and uses innovative approaches in working with client groups to facilitate positive change.

The opinions represented here do not necessarily represent WMC’s views as a whole.