November 16, 2018
Anne Stuckey

Ten Tips for a Successful Strategic Plan

With a new year almost upon us, it’s time to make sure your strategic plan is ready for action. Follow the ten tips below and you’ll be achieving your goals in no time! 

1. Focus on innovation.

A good strategy focuses on the things that set you apart. Your differentiators drive your business forward, secure your place in the market, and lead to more revenue. Don’t use your strategic plan to slightly improve what you’re doing already; use it to rock the world with the next big thing. 

2. Push yourself.

Your strategy should make you a little bit uncomfortable. Focusing on innovations means trying new things, which may or may not work. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed that your plan is too ambitious, but you also don’t want to feel like executing your goals will be a walk in the park. Find that middle ground. 

3. Understand the difference between actions and objectives.

When we’re strategic planning, we often start with objectives – we want to increase revenue, roll out a new product, or become a thought leader. These are trailing measures: the results of actions we take. Actions are leading measures: the things that cause the trailing measure to happen. Know what the difference is, and make sure you include both. 

4. Focus on two or three objectives.

When we’re creating a strategic plan, it’s easy to become energized by all the great objectives that will move you forward. It’s much harder to narrow that down to just two or three key objectives that will have the biggest impact, but it’s so important. Stay focused and you will accomplish your objectives – set too many, and you won’t achieve any of them. 

5. Keep your objectives firm and your actions flexible.

Your objectives are big, innovative, and exciting – so they will take time to accomplish. Keep your objectives constant throughout your execution period, even if your progress is inconsistent. Remember that your actions are what cause results, so review them constantly and adjust them as needed. Start new actions when you accomplish old ones, and stop doing actions that aren’t having an impact. 

6. Be specific.

Becoming a thought leader is a great idea. But, it is a terrible objective. How do you know when you have become a thought leader? Is it when your blog posts receive a certain amount of comments? Is it when you are asked to be a speaker at a prestigious conference? Make sure all of your objectives have specific, concrete outcomes associated with them, and specific timelines for when you want to achieve them. Your actions should also have concrete activities and timelines associated with them. 

7. Engage everyone with the plan.

Your strategy is built around actions that will push your objectives forward. Those actions should be happening every day, by everyone. Make sure everyone knows what the objectives are, what actions are being taken to achieve them, and how the work they do is driving you forward. 

8. Track it.

You’ve created a strong, innovative strategy and everyone is engaged with its success – make sure you are watching the results, adjusting or stopping things that aren’t working, and celebrating things that are! 

9. Make execution an ongoing focus.

The year is long, and strategic planning is short. Make strategic execution part of your rhythm by folding into your existing processes – for example, use team meetings and one on ones to report on progress, eliminate roadblocks, and share success. 

10. Prioritize it.

There will always be urgent issues and competing tasks that will try to distract you from strategic execution. By keeping your plan focused and concise, you should give yourself room to accommodate other, unexpected priorities, without abandoning strategic execution. This is how you will continue to move forward – don’t lose focus. Use these tips to make your strategy a success. Let me know how it goe

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