So far this month, we’ve looked at the importance of having a strategic plan, steps for developing a strategic plan, and some tips for ensuring execution. I want to close out this series of articles by focusing on idea of plan review.
Even the best plans need periodic review to make sure they are still relevant. Any number of things can lead to a necessary course adjustment. Market fluctuations, competitive positioning, regulatory restrictions, personnel changes, and policy or procedure adjustments – all could mean your well-defined plan just went out the window. On top of that, it’s a good idea to periodically check the numbers and take the pulse of the team.
Approximately every 90 days, I suggest pulling the team back together for a strategic plan review. This is your opportunity to kick the tires and make any tweaks needed to keep the plan moving forward. Here are a few questions you can ask as part of your review:
- Did we get what we expected from each particular strategy?
- How far off the mark are we?
- How far over the goal did we get?
- What worked, and why?
- Can we do more of those activities that seem to be bearing fruit?
- What could have been done to make it even more effective?
- What fell short, and why?
- Can we fix it, or was this just a bad idea to begin with?
- What should we have anticipated that we didn’t?
- What are our team’s strengths?
- How can we capitalize on these in stronger ways?
- What internal issues need to be addressed so we can be more effective going forward?
- What outside forces need to be dealt with?
- How needs to happen to improve our FOCUS?
- How needs to happen to improve our MOTIVATION?
- How needs to happen to improve our ACCOUNTABILITY?
These and other questions can help stimulate a discussion about the state of the team’s performance against the plan. Based on the insights gleaned from your discussion, you should update your plan. Plug the holes in viable strategies. Reinforce the efforts put into the best ones. Replace the worst ideas with new ones that seem promising.
These periodic reviews are a great way to reenergize the team. You’ll find people recommitting themselves to the process and approaching their work with a renewed energy. Ownership will go up and the dedication they show to the plan will bleed over into other aspects of the job.
So, the strategic planning cycle looks like this:
DEVLOP > EXECUTE > REVIEW > REPEAT
The bottom line is to treat your strategic plan less like a one-time event and more like a living, breathing part of your team. Like any employee, your plan needs support, attention, and ongoing development. The more you put into the strategic planning process, the more you will get out of it.