• Tips to Put Your Strategy Into Action

So You've Got a Strategy, Now What?

When we asked readers what would make their current strategic plan more useful, roughly one-third expressed the need to do better at keeping the strategy alive. What we heard was a deep desire for both the internal discipline and external supports and tools to keep their strategic plan top-of-mind and at the forefront of decision making, to track and monitor success, and to use the plan to ensure accountability for results.

As it so happens, two of our clients recently shared with us how they are keeping their strategies front-and-center on an ongoing basis. We thank them for agreeing to let us share these insights with you.

Sonia Pérez, COO of UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza) told us that she is one of three senior leaders charged with monitoring implementation of their strategy roadmap and tracking progress. "There's me for the overall institutional view, a leader in our program team, and one in our policy team. We've worked together on strategy before, so it was a natural evolution for us to take this on, and it brings together the two biggest teams in the organization." They each have a detailed version of the roadmap and use it in their weekly meetings to check in on progress, along with any other major changes in the organization. "We find that it's important to have that internal working group to move the work forward," Pérez added.

But it doesn't end there. UnidosUS has also made sure the strategy is broadly shared across the whole organization. Pérez explained, "We created a one-page chart that summarizes the roadmap, and handed out printed copies to all staff for everyone's work station." This helps keep the strategy alive as a guide when new opportunities emerge, reminding staff to look for the fit with the overall strategy. "We continually have those conversations in leadership team and staff meetings," she said, "so it's actually organizing the work that people are doing. My staff are probably sick of hearing it, but I always say: 'Look at the roadmap!'"

Cara Ciminillo, Executive Director of Trying Together (formerly Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children), described a similar approach. Although their strategy was just recently developed, which she acknowledges makes it "like the new toy you want to play with, it's still fresh," Ciminillo is creating expectations and practices that will ensure it stays fresh and relevant. "We have parts of the plan that we've excerpted and reproduced for each department, and have also put parts into a spreadsheet they use to check their progress. Department directors are already using it on an ongoing basis." She also anticipates making the strategy document central to their weekly leadership meetings, and in their report-outs to the board.

Key Takeaways:

  • Don't be afraid to carve up the strategy document into at-a-glance guides or spreadsheets that staff can use to guide and track their everyday work
  • Do ensure that senior leadership play an active role in championing the strategy, continually checking on progress, and keeping it part of the conversation
  • Do structure existing meetings around the plan to integrate it into how you work, not just what you do

How do YOU keep your strategy alive? Send us a comment to share with your peers!

 

Tags: accountability, decision making, implementation, management, planning, strategy

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