How to keep your strategic plan from collecting dust

July 15, 2021

One of the top reasons organizations fail or remain stagnant is not following a strategic plan. 

As I facilitated a recent strategic planning session, a participant shared his frustration with what I call strategic planning fatigue. 

“I’ve been at the table working on several strategic plans lately, and I’m worried all this work might just sit on the shelf.”

He is not alone. Writing the plan and putting it on the shelf was cited by Forbes magazine as one of the top 10 reasons why strategic plans fail. 

Here are 10 tips for keeping a strategic plan relevant and useful.

  1. Consistency. Review progress on strategic priorities on a regular basis. Highlight progress toward goals at every board meeting.
  2. Capacity. Be realistic about the financial and human resources necessary to carry out the plan. 
  3. Continual improvement. Build on the strategic plan each year by taking a deeper dive into organizational development. For instance, an organization in early stages might focus on mission and vision statements. As the group matures, look at values and succession planning.
  4. Coordination. One of the most important questions to ask as you consider which strategies to pursue or how to allocate resources is, “Do we play a lead role or support role?” 
  5. Commitment. Make it official. The strategic plan should be formally adopted in a business meeting. Then refer to the plan whenever a new opportunity arises. Consider how the concept fits into the strategic plan. If it warrants revising the plan, be deliberate about garnering the support and approval of your board or executive leadership. Do not be afraid to defer the opportunity until a more appropriate time if it doesn’t mesh with the top priorities already approved.
  6. Condense your top strategic priorities in a one-pager. 
  7. Communicate. Share this summary with employees, members, stakeholders, clients, etc. Be able to highlight your mission and top priorities in an elevator pitch.
  8. Concentrate. A strategic plan helps you keep your work focused. It does not include everything about your business or organization. Target the most important actions to advance your organization.
  9. Calculate. Set measurable goals to demonstrate accountability and understand the return on investment.
  10. Celebrate your accomplishments. Applaud the efforts of everyone involved. Report on your progress.

Using these techniques will keep your plan of action top of mind and guide your business or organization toward mission accomplishment.

Strategy development is one of the services offered by Orbis. Let us know if you’re ready to advance your organization.

Lisa Johnson
Lisa is an enterprising idea person who likes to share with others to help in their business and personal success. She was raised on cattle ranches in Wyoming and Colorado. She holds a B.S. in Communications from Eastern New Mexico University and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute. Her economic development career has spanned 20+ years and three states, with leadership roles at the county, regional and state level. She founded Orbis to enjoy the advantage of working on unique consulting on projects while being actively involved on her husband’s family ranch at LaGrange, Wyoming. Lisa is equally as comfortable in the corporate board room or in the saddle.