Your Strategic Plan: A Blueprint for Action or Just Ideas on Paper?
As I was preparing to speak at a recent event, I noticed a quotation stenciled on the conference room wall. The quote, from Nolan Bushnell, an American engineer and entrepreneur who founded both Atari and the Chuck E. Cheese's chain, really grabbed my attention. It says plenty about the significance of putting ideas into action:
"The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer."
I believe that strategic plans are "ideas for companies" that must be shared and, most importantly, put directly into action. The challenge lies within the core of Mr. Bushnell's quotation, and that is doing something today. Almost all strategic planning efforts produce a well-structured and nicely written document. But many plans are kept a secret and often end up gathering dust on bookshelves in the executive suite. The concept of "today" is completely lost.
You absolutely must get people on-board today. By this I mean engaging employees in the execution of making the "idea" a reality. This involves a clear, consistent, and penetrating message that will provide inspiration at all levels in your organization. To inspire action and achieve the best results, a well communicated strategic plan will satisfy four essential employee needs:
- Understanding: Employees should know the critical elements of the plan. For example, company goals, objectives, direction, competitive positioning, top challenges,opportunities, etc.
- Belief: Employees, especially mid-level managers, need to believe the plan is achievable. I am not advocating any sand-bagging! The plan should not be easy to reach, but it must be perceived as within reach.
- Identification: Each employee should be clear on how the plan impacts them and their areas of responsibility.
- Realization: This helps employees make the connection to the rest of the organization in terms of resources, collaboration, and interdependent priorities. Realization clearly defines how an employee's work relates to the success of the whole organization.