Strategic Planning – it takes more than “Just Do It”

So many people make new years resolutions such as,  “I want to lose weight, work out more, run a 5K” etc. So ask yourself – what distinguishes the people that are successful in reaching their resolutions vs. not?

Very often the answer is a clear plan, and then a way to hold themselves accountable to making it happen.  Do you think something like this plan would be helpful as a starting point for reaching a fitness related new years resolution?

Mission: Be a strong, healthy and lower stress person

Goal: Be able to do the following in 1 hour or less by the end of 2012

  • 150 push-ups
  • 200 squats
  • 200 bicycle crunches
  • 10 suicides
  • 2 min of mountain climbers
  • 5 minutes of jumping rope

Strategy: Sign up and regularly participate in a group fitness class

Key Performance Indicators (ways to measure progress against mission and goal)

  • Go to class 1 hour – 2 x week – 48 weeks a year (need a vacation!)

Fairly straightforward.  Now of course the trick is actually making it happen.  The fitness and health industry knows it, and so does a small little boot camp operation called Poseideon Fitness that does a great job of helping people make their goals a reality.  Why?

  • First – consistency. The expectations for the class are clearly communicated and the Poseidon Fitness boot camp instructor ALWAYS comes to class (rain, snow, hail, cold, sick). He also NEVER backs down from the workout goals, no matter how much whining, suggestions or complaining people throw at him.  And the funny thing is, people actually appreciate it (although they may not admit in the middle of a set of suicides).
  • Second – established process and incentives for reaching goals. Participants have to attend 20 classes before they can get a Poseidon Fitness t-shirt (nope, you can’t buy it – they aren’t for sale). When individuals reach the goal, the t-shirt is publicly handed out at class, followed by a special Facebook posting recognizing the accomplishment. Those t-shirts have become a badge of honor!
  • Third – accountability. The group holds one another accountable for coming (not fun when you get e-mails or texts asking where you were, and no, sleeping is not an acceptable answer), and to add insult to injury, the instructor posts what happened, and pictures of who attended, on Facebook after every class.

OK, great, another post about getting fit.  What does this have to do with Strategic Planning? Surprisingly more than you would think.

When developing a strategic plan, an organization typically comes up with the same general concepts as the fitness plan above:

  • Vision and mission – what are we seeking to do and why?
  • Goals and objectives – how will we know we have been successful?
  • Strategies – where will focus our efforts in order to reach our goals, or in other words, what are we going to do?
  • Accountability/Tracking performance – how will monitor performance to make sure we are staying on track?

And similar to all those people that forget about their fitness resolutions and go back to the same old ways, many organizations struggle with the exact same challenges when trying to execute their strategic plans.  More often than not, organizations lack accountability and a committed leader that will hold themselves, and the rest of the organization, to a set of performance expectations.  So what are some of the key elements of a boot camp equivalent for executing a strategic plan?

  • Establish a clear and consistent process for determining goals and metrics, as well as how to track and monitor performance – strategic plan goals have to be set and communicated, and then metrics need to be cascaded down to aligned individual performance expectations. And as importantly, a process needs to be established and adhered to regularly that monitors and tracks performance against goals – both at the organizational, departmental and individual level.  This is one of my favorite articles that talks about the role performance management plays in successfully implementing a new strategy.
  • Leadership has to hold people accountable and walk the talk – people will only really buy into the plan if the leadership demonstrates that they are adhering to it and requiring others to do so as well. Strategic plans are intended to direct and guide people towards a shared common vision and often require some degree of behavior change.  If the leadership of an organization wants managers and staff to be aligned and accountable to working together to acheive the strategic plan goals, they need to model the change they are seeking themselves.

In my experience, working with many organizations developing and executing many strategic plans, if the leaders and the organization can focus on and do these things well, the chances of success go up exponentially. Without the discipline (a process, consistency and accountability), whether it is a strategic plan or a fitness plan, it is going to be a pretty tough hill to climb to realize success.


About Susan Greene

Innovator. Strategist. Marketer. Wife. Mother. Friend. Advocate. Outdoor Enthusiast. Environmentalist. Active. Athletic.
This entry was posted in Performance Management, Strategic Planning and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Strategic Planning – it takes more than “Just Do It”

  1. Rick Powell says:

    Great blog post! I also would include communicating the need for organizational change long before the change actually happened as to prepare the organization. Enlist champions across the organization who can assist in keeping the change permanent.

    • Susan Greene says:

      Whole heartedly agree! Key aspects to success in executing a strategic plan in addition to performance management, is communication and change management. A statistic we often quote speaks to the differences between organizations that are successful in implementing organizational transformation and those that aren’t… 60% of organizations who apply strategic measurement and effectively communicate the strategy to the organization are successful vs. an 8% success rate for organizations who do not. Very telling!

      I would encourage you to read our latest white paper about driving culture change which goes more in-depth about this topic.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Pingback: The Problem with Overwriting | Moments of Clarity

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