Tips, Videos, Handouts

Keep your strategic plan off the shelf

The danger of strategic planning is that the plan ends up on a shelf and not used. In this video — shot on location at the Wells Reserve in Southern Maine — Craig explains two techniques for keeping your strategic plan alive.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hey, It’s Craig Freshley here and I am at a pretty special place. This is called the Wells Reserve in Wells, Maine. Over here is the old farmhouse. It was called Laudholm Farm and this place is now an estuarine research reserve. It’s right next to the ocean if you can believe it and all these buildings and land is maintained by a Board of Trustees. They call themselves the Laudholm Trust. Now the folks at Laudholm Trust hired me a couple years ago to help them with a strategic plan.

Here’s the strategic plan that we made and they have asked me to come back now two years later to check in with them about their strategic plan. For those of you who may not be familiar, a strategic plan is really just a fancy way of saying a long-term plan. It’s a thing that a group makes to ensure that they’re all on the same page that they all have a shared understanding of what they’re going to do far into the future.

This group, the Board of Trustees of Laudholm Trust, made a strategic plan with 14 objectives and I’m going to show them to you in a minute here.

One way to keep your strategic plan off the shelf is to organize your operations right along the lines of these objectives and every time you have a board meeting, or every time you have a management team meeting, you share information with each other about how you’re doing according to this organization. See look, they’ve got 14 things and three different areas. This is the basics of their strategic plan.

Now today we are going to have a four-hour meeting and we are going to just roll through these 14 objectives. We’re going to go one at a time and for each objective were going to ask three questions. We’re going to ask ourselves (1) what were the successes, (2) what were the challenges, and (3) for the things that are challenges we’re going to talk about how to make them better. What are our plans for the future making sure those things get done.

In some cases we might decide, you know, “That was a challenge and we don’t even need to do it now or we don’t need to do it in that way because what we thought might work really won’t work.” So we change the plan and that’s okay.

That is another way that we keep strategic plans off-the-shelf. When our practice gets out of line with the plan, we either change our practice or we change the plan. And today we might change this plan a little bit, we’ll see.

The whole idea is if you’re going to make a plan like this, keep alive, keep it off-the-shelf. You know the old saying goes that, “We’re going to make a plan it is just going to sit on the shelf and were never going to pay attention to it.” If that’s what you’re going to do, it’s not worth making it in the first place.

So there are lots of ways to keep your plan lively, keep your plan off the shelf. This group has chosen to invite back the third-party neutral facilitator that helped to make the plan in the first place, and ask them “How did you do with this plan?” In a few minutes we are going to find out how they did on these 14 objectives.

 

Now look, I want to tell you one more thing.

Right over here, in that barn doorway, there was a meeting. This meeting probably happened 20 years ago. Before I was a professional meeting facilitator I had a very different job but I came to this place. I was part of this meeting and it was a full day meeting and at the end of the meeting the facilitator stood right in that doorway — big crowd of people out here — and he told the group, “Well look, it looks to me like we have heard 10 things today…..” and he went through the 10 things and recapped the whole day. And it was magical. And pretty much at that moment, right here, I decided that’s what I want to do. I want to be a meeting facilitator!

So it’s kind of cool for me to come back here on a beautiful spring day to Laudholm Farm — to the place where I first realized I wanted to be a facilitator — and I’m ago facilitate a meeting.

Thanks a lot everybody. Here’s hoping that you make good group decisions.

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