JC Anderson Consulting

Your strategic plan needs a plan

We have all read articles (and heard from colleagues) about how strategic plans get “put on a shelf” and collect dust. We’ve all witnessed that process at one time or another.  

The solution:the plan needs a plan.

Here’s how.

As your institution or organization begins the process of developing its strategic plan, include a goal of communicating the plan early and often to engage and inform individuals outside of the project team. Communicating the process and progress of your strategic plan is a key component to the plan’s success. It is critical to help others understand your process, framework, timeline, and measurements for success. Communicating the plan to your internal audiences throughout your organization sets up you for higher engagement when it comes time to implement the plan. Your strategic plan needs a communication plan.

Your strategic plan should include a strategy for communicating progress after the implementation phase has begun.

It is important for internal as well as external audiences to have a number of ways to learn about the strategic plan and its progress along the way. A clear and robust communications plan includes ways to reach target audiences, providing multiple points of entry, such as web, video, print, email, social media, meetings (faculty meetings, department meetings, board meetings), and events (on-campus/on-site and off-campus/off-site).

The communications timeline includes a series of key messages to:

Engage Internal Audiences

  • Convey how the strategic plan will advance the mission of the organization (presidential/CEO message).
  • Encourage participation from all constituents, and how they fit into the plan (presidential and/or planning chair message).
  • Tell stories that reflect the areas of the strategic plan, including opportunities for comments.
  • Publish/distribute/communicate periodic progress.
  • Provide feedback forums to encourage comments, suggestions.

Inform External Audiences

  • Convey the importance of a strategic plan and how it will benefit the institution or organization, the community, the world (presidential/CEO message).
  • Tell stories that reflect the areas of the strategic plan (including opportunities for comments if appropriate).
  • Publish/distribute/communicate periodic progress reports.

Map Out the Process

  • Illustrate the process via a matrix identifying components of the strategic plan. Make it visual, clear, and easy to follow.
  • Indicate points where individuals and groups can join the process.
  • Provide a timeline for key goals and milestones.

Communicate Progress

  • Use stories to show how various groups are involved in the process (faculty, staff, students, alumni, advisors, partners).
  • Celebrate milestones along the way to maintain a level of engagement and engagement.
  • Make the most of your existing communications channels to show progress.