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Great Visions and Strategic Plans

First of all, why do we do it?  

We identify a vision and strategic plan to focus our mindsets, resources, and daily activities.

The vision is our picture of success for 3 – 5 years downstream and the strategic plan is the path to get there with outcomes, strategies, timeframes/deadlines, and sometimes responsible parties.

What do strategic plans look like?

Their presentation comes in all shapes and sizes (mostly pictures, tons of detail, etc.) and often reflects the culture of the organization.  PBI advocates that they include “breakthrough opportunities” (your organization’s strengths projected into a future-focused environmental scan), commitments to address your organizational weaknesses, and specifics about doing “more of” and “better of” what’s working well now.

Great strategic plans are:

Compelling  –  They excite and inspire people.  People want to follow them.

Personalized  –  They are created by your people and reflect your unique desires and character.  No cut and paste.

Measureable  –  They facilitate measuring and celebrating progress and making adjustments as needed

Useable  –  They are easily understood from both the conceptual and “what you want me to do” perspectives

How do you create them?:

This is not an overnight process.  Strong, enduring plans are created over time and with a significant level of stakeholder participation.   That could include citizens/residents (for local governments), customers, employees, trusted vendors, and others whose voice could provide value.

Typically, multiple sessions will identify the organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT).   From that and the environmental scan, the breakthrough opportunities, weaknesses, and currently effective approaches are captured.  Those are converted to outcome statements (desired results at the end of the planning horizon).  A best practice is to “layer” the accomplishment of these in building block years (year one is to lay the base and accomplish the first 25%, year two 25 – 50%, etc.)

Building the plan is only the beginning.  There’s a significant amount of “organizational change management” work needed to implement and sustain it.  PBI breaks that into three phases – each with potentially different participants and skill sets.  

Aside from the “change” work, is the measurement side.   If we commit to implementing the plan, we need to know how we’ll measure progress and success against it.  We advocate a “Suite of Measures that Matter” to capture both the quantitative, tactical, and operational issues, but especially the qualitative, holistic, and managerial ones.


Yes … absolutely.   Most of the organizations we hold up as examples of Organizational Excellence have committed to and follow this approach … with ongoing updates.  They see the results in not only effectiveness and efficiency, but also in engagement, pride, focus, recruiting, and reputation.  

Our motto is “No SPOTS”  (Strategic Plans on the Top Shelf).

How good (or great) is your strategic plan?    Are you really using it?    How?

Call us if you don’t have a great one or are not using it to drive how you do business.

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