Does Your Strategic Plan Inspire?

Does Your Strategic Plan Inspire?

I was meeting with a client recently when an interesting conversation began between the two owners. Their company had just won a considerable amount of new business (excellent news), but leaders weren’t taking time to celebrate the success with their teams. As they discussed their concerns, one comment caught my attention.

“You’ve got to celebrate big wins with your people,” one of the owners said. “Those are the moments they would charge up a hill for you!”

How committed would you have to feel about your employer to “charge up a hill” for them?

Would your employees charge up a hill for you right now?

It’s easy to get excited after a big win, but how can you sustain the level of excitement in your employees that would move them to “charge up a hill” for you (literally or figuratively?) My clients had a “good problem.” They had every reason to celebrate, and their employees had the enthusiasm; they just needed to do it. Not every organization is so fortunate. Perhaps you’ve watched some enthusiasm fade as the global pandemic gives way to “the great resignation,” or perhaps your people haven’t enjoyed a win as recently as my client. If it’s time for some inspiration – I have a suggestion. Begin your 2022 strategic plan.

I know, I know… strategic planning isn’t typically a source of inspiration. Sure, there are some people who love to plan, in fact they have a knack for pulling together information and logistics in miraculous ways, but they aren’t inspiring anyone with their spreadsheets… are they? Can a strategic planning process resuscitate, energize and actually inspire your people?

It can… if these two things are true:

#1 – Your strategic plan must live beyond the written page.

A strategic plan should create clarity about why your business exists, where you plan to go and how you plan to get there. All strategic plans contain the same general elements: a purpose, goals, obstacles and strategies. This information is collected and organized… priorities are determined… a document is born! (We recommend no more than 2-3 pages.) The people who are right for your business will find some inspiration on those pages, but it’s how the plan lives off the written page that can truly inspire.

What does mean? It means that every employee understands how their work helps accomplish the long-term goals of the business. It means that every meeting, every project and every decision can be tied back to the priorities established in the strategic plan. It means the plan is on the “front stage” – continually communicated, referenced, discussed and updated. It means anything that doesn’t move that plan forward doesn’t get your employee’s energy. Keeping your strategic plan alive is easier when it’s part of something bigger.

#2 – Your strategic plan must centralize your “way.”

In order for your team to execute your strategic plan they need more than marching orders; they need a system; something that keeps everyone rowing in the same direction. They need a common approach to frequently repeated tasks like meetings or projects and a common language with which to communicate. In other words, they need a “way” of working. A business’s way of working will involve specific tools, approaches, language and thinking that are known and used by every employee. There are two major benefits to making your strategic planning process central to your way of working. First, it helps your plan remain alive and top of mind each day for all employees (see #1). Second, it provides your employees the benefit of consistency, which will preserve their energy. They won’t have to wonder how to run the next meeting or how to address an obstacle because your business has a “way” to do that.

Get inspired by your strategic plan.

What do you say, is it inspiring to know the difference your work makes? To have clear priorities and the support of your team? To remove the guess work and save your energy for actually doing your job instead of “all the other stuff?” We think it is.

There are less than five months remaining in 2021. Spend that time learning a strategic planning process that will remain alive each day and building your business’s “way” of working. Put those learnings to work this December to create your 2022 strategic plan so you can hit the ground running in January.

Not sure where to begin? That’s why humanworks exists.  We believe Everyone Rises. We help leadership teams build more than a strategic plan, we guide them to build their company’s unique “way” of working using our strategic planning methodology as the foundation. Through expert facilitation, our team will bring clarity to your priorities through the remainder of 2021 and help you create a one-year plan for 2022 including quarterly alignment meetings throughout the year. As we work together, we will guide you to establish your company’s own unique “way” of working that will sustain your strategic planning process into the future.

Schedule a conversation with AJ Kruse to get started.