In our previous blog posting, What are YOUR strategic goals? we walked through the process of identifying strategic goals for your organization. With this posting, we’ll tackle the next step in the Strategic Planning process.
Research from the Brightline Initiative indicates that 9 out of 10 organizations fail to meet their strategic goals (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2017). The core reason for this shortfall? Most organizations take the time to design strategic plans, yet very few organizations take the time, and effort, to deliver on those plans.
If you have been following the process outlined thus far in this blog series, you should now have a Vision, Mission, and strategic goals in place. The next step of the process involves answering the How? question:
o How do we plan to achieve the strategic goals?
To illustrate this step, consider the following example strategic goal.
“Expand our sales territory into the neighboring county in 2019 with at least 20 new customers in that county.”
Lesson Learned: As a reminder, one of the criteria for defining a strategic goal is to ensure that it meets that SMART criteria — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound. Does the example goal meet the SMART criteria? Yes, it does.
The next step is to identify initiatives that can help the organization achieve the goal. As at every stage in the planning process, involving your staff in discussions of such initiatives is key, whether through team gatherings, an All Hands meeting, or a survey. Everyone can bring a different perspective to the table based on their respective roles within the organization. Ask the staff for their ideas on how to meet the goal. For example, in relation to the goal outlined above:
“Based on your role and experience within the organization, how do YOU think we can expand our sales territory into the neighboring county and get some new customers?”
Potential suggested initiatives may include:
o Review the existing customer base to see whether any current customers have offices, staff, or other connections in the neighboring county.
o Develop a marketing campaign in the form of flyers and other materials and undertake multi-channel advertising in local newspapers, on regional websites, social media and at conferences, business associations, and Chambers of Commerce.
o Research, purchase, and implement a customer relationship management (CRM) software tool to facilitate tracking and monitoring of new contacts, potential customers, complementary organizations that may be open to a partnership or affiliation, and other data.
o Assess internal operations and procedures related to sales, customer service, support, billing, manufacturing, and delivery to ensure that the organization can support a minimum of 20 new customers from the neighboring county.
Or something completely different and, even, unexpected! As with strategic-goal identification, ensure that you keep track of all suggested initiatives and apply best practices in determining which initiatives to pursue.
Prioritize potential initiatives based not only on whether you have the organizational resources to support them, but whether the initiatives meet the SMART criteria. As is the case with your strategic goals and overall strategic plan, the key to tracking progress of the related initiatives is measurement. Initiatives that meet the SMART criteria provide for monitoring progress in anticipation of recommended quarterly strategic-planning reviews. SMART initiatives also enable clear and effective communication to staff with respect to their efforts and contributions to the overall strategy.
Let’s get those initiatives identified so we can get the job done!