It has been said that those without a vision, perish. That is true in business: 67% of the 26,000 start-up businesses that fail lacked a formal written strategic plan. Perhaps even more disheartening is that 70% of organizations that report having a formal strategic plan fail to implement it. I am not sure which is worse, not having a strategic plan or having one and not executing it.
The dawn of 2013 presents an excellent opportunity to re-examine your organization’s strategic planning process. Where do you, as an organization, want to be and what do you want to accomplish in the next year, and three and five years down the road?
Organizations that do not develop a vision and strategy tend to be reactive, fueled by the crisis of the day, and often are very shortsighted as to stakeholder expectations. As organizational-leadership guru Peter Drucker once said, “you can either be the architect of change or the tenant of the results.”
An external facilitator can assist your organization and its stakeholders in conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. With that as your foundation, listen to your internal and external stakeholders and incorporate their expectations and perceptions in developing a realistic and sustainable vision. This step ensures proper buy-in and ownership of organization direction from the rank-and-file, instead of feeling like a top-down-driven concept from the ivory tower.
Broad and attainable goals must be followed by specific, actionable and measurable objectives with deadlines and assignments of accountability. Far too many organizations have well-crafted strategic plans that sit dormant. The successful organization uses its plan as a tool to meet regularly and assess its implementation progress relative to established objectives and timeframes. This also assists with planning and budgeting processes as they are easily linked to organizational goals and may facilitate greater understanding from municipal administrators and elected officials when assessing budget priorities among other departments.
Ideally, a simple tracking method of implementation progress should be available to all stakeholders. This allows for regular updates as to organizational forward momentum. Lastly, your strategic plan should not be stagnant but updated regularly to reflect, accomplishment of goals and objectives, shifts in any strategic direction and embracing for additional and new strategic opportunities.
So use this time for a New Year vision for the future! Have a safe and healthy 2013.