A Plan on a Shelf

by Frank L. Williams

Does your business, association or non-profit organization have a well-thought-out strategic plan, communication strategy, or crisis communication plan sitting on a shelf collecting dust?

Over the years I’ve been involved with organizations and worked with clients who fell into this trap. In some cases, they invested countless hours developing a well-thought-out strategic plan that was now several years old, no longer relevant, and which no one in the organization referenced when planning their work. In other situations, many of the organization’s key players were unfamiliar with its crisis communication plan. In one specific instance, board members appointed two or three years after the strategic plan’s completion had no knowledge of its existence.

It takes time, energy, and financial resources to develop strategic plans, communication strategies, crisis management plans and the like. While these plans are critical tools for successful, growing organizations, they are only valuable if they are understood, reviewed, and followed.

Additionally, strategic plans and communication plans should be updated on a periodic basis to ensure that they remain current and relevant. If your communication strategy revolves around fax machines, pagers, or paper communications, it’s probably time for an update.

Let’s take a step back and consider why you need a strategic plan. How does it help your company or organization? The purpose of a strategic plan is to connect your organization’s mission and daily activities with its vision and purpose. It is your roadmap to success. Organizations without a plan risk making decisions and investing time and resources on activities that do not bring value or, worse, lead to failure. An outdated strategic plan that is not relevant to today’s world can leave your organization stuck in the past. A great example is Blockbuster. With the rise of on-demand streaming and companies like Netflix, Blockbuster’s business model needed to change. It didn’t, and you know the rest of the story.

Here are some tools to consider when creating your strategic planning documents and to ensure they remain relevant:

  • Engage your team members in the plan’s development
  • Present the plan to your entire organization when it is created or updated
  • Ensure new employees or board members complete an orientation on your strategic plan
  • Direct department heads, organizational leaders or committee chairs to develop team goals that directly tie to goals in the strategic plan
  • Charge employees with developing goals and work plans that directly tie to goals in the strategic plan and incorporate those benchmarks into their review and compensation process
  • Tie items on meeting agendas to goals in the strategic plan
  • Briefly review goals and progress at monthly team or board meetings and recognize team members who demonstrate a thorough understanding of the plan
  • Conduct an in-depth quarterly review of goals and progress
  • Hold an annual or biennial strategic plan review and update
  • Solicit employee or member feedback on your plan and how to improve it.

While these tips are specific to strategic plans, many of them can be applied to communication plans, crisis plans, safety plans, and other documents that may be collecting dust on your bookshelf rather than contributing to your organization. If your business, association, or non-profit has a plan sitting on a shelf or hidden away in a file box collecting dust, now is the time to take it out, dust it off, update it if needed, and begin utilizing it to move your organization toward success.

Need help developing a strategic plan for your association, business, or non-profit organization? Drop a us a line.

Frank L. Williams

Frank is the founder and president of Pioneer Strategies.