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Strategic Planning – Four Must-do’s for a Successful Planning Cycle

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs”.
–Henry Ford

Four Musts for Planning Cycle

Goal Reset

Once a year, during a period that suits the company’s natural rhythm (for accounting firms, for example, nobody is focusing on anything other than client work from February to May) conduct a lessons learned and goal reset for the coming period. This activity may involve formal data gathering, inclusion of outside experts, restatement of vision and mission statements and other items fundamental to the organization’s positioning in the market place. This does not mean that they need to be reworked in their entirety – that depends on the judgement of the Executive and Board.

Action Planning

The bridge to strategic management is the regular updating of actions plans that support the strategic direction. This should not be signaled as extra work; instead it should be part of the management discipline of 30, 60, 90 day plans. Keeping planning to manageable chunks and checking on progress regularly allows for flexibility and small changes to direction.

Line of Sight to Personal Objectives

The continual and deliberate linkage of the action plans and personal objectives builds a sense of commitment to what the organization is attempting to do in the world.

One of the most effective examples we’ve seen was a vice president who created a small, professionally formatted work book for everyone in his organization. It was intended to give a direct connection between the goals, objective and metrics for the year and each employee’s personal objectives.

The booklet contained:

  • Vision and Values of the organization (provided by the organization)
  • Key Metrics for the year (provided by the organization)
  • Goals and Objectives for the year (developed by the leadership team)
  • Department Goals ( developed by the department)
  • Team Goals (developed by the team leaders and their teams)
  • Individual Team Member Goals (developed by the individual with input from the team leader and other team members)

Celebration & Accountability

Quarterly celebrations of success reinforce progress that is being made on the plan and communication of priorities on an ongoing basis. They also allow for reinforcement of accountability.


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