Strategic planning. It’s one of those things that we all know we should be doing, but don’t always dedicate the time and resources true to our intentions. When done right, a strategic plan will act as a roadmap to not only plan for the future, but also guide and motivate each employee in their daily decisions. Today we’re chatting with Mindy Hinsley, CPSM, about the value she sees in keeping the plan alive, and how to incorporate the strategic planning process into you everyday routine.
The The real challenge is understanding that this plan should be a living, breathing part of your process.
I understand why people might think strategic plans are a waste of time. They’re great if you’re going to use them, but not so great if they’re going to sit on a shelf and collect dust. A lot of people see the strategic plan as an item to cross off their list to say they’ve done it, and then forget about it. But the real challenge is understanding that this plan should be a living, breathing part of your process.
What is the power behind a strategic plan if operating at an optimum level?
It gives everyone a framework to hang their mission on. It’s like putting a stake in the ground to let everyone in the firm know where you are going, and how you plan to get there. Think back to the ice bucket challenge – everyone was so excited to spread awareness and be a part of the activity. It was exciting and created a rally and sense of community. That is what employees want from a strategic plan – clear communication so they can get behind a mission. And once you’re able to communicate that – it’s a win win.
Who is responsible for driving the strategic plan?
Ultimately, it’s the firm leadership who should drive the plan, and then then appoint others in the firm to make sure specific pieces are moving forward. But it absolutely has to be a culture that is created from the top down. People are quick to get on board with something that leadership initiates.
Where and when do you see people losing focus?
Probably 30 days out (and that’s being generous). There is so much preparation up front that by the time you get to actually implementing the plan people are exhausted and don’t want to spend that much time away from their billable work. The excitement can fade quickly – and that’s why it is so important to appoint specific people to cheer lead certain sections and report and report back. Frequent communication keeps it in front of everyone and makes people feel accountable.
How are you checking the progress of your strategic plan?
Leadership must include strategic plan updates as part of their regular meetings. It’s also important that the individuals who are spearheading specific sections are checking in regularly and meeting the milestones within their initiative.
What’s the danger of not having a strategic plan, or having one and not using it?
Simple: you slip behind your competition. If you don’t have this focused road map in place, you’re not prepared to make adjustments when the market fluctuates, nor plan for the future. Sticking to the plan allows each of the stakeholders and practice groups within a firm to be focused and all working toward the same vision.
What tips do you have for marketers to keep the momentum?
MH: Cheer lead and create excitement! Check-in with others and ask where you can help out. Celebrate victories and engage others in the firm. This will help build your professional credibility as well as that of your marketing team. And while the plan should be saved on your servers in a spot that everyone can access, I also recommend having several hard copies around the office as a visual reminder.