How to reconstitute the strategic plan
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
My mom used to make chicken broth from little cubes sold in a jar. The directions said to reconstitute by adding water and heating.
Reconstituting is a process; to build up again from parts, to reconstruct.
You can apply the concept to a strategic plan. It means to take an existing strategic plan and, from its parts, reconstitute it to maximize awareness and value.
Planning retreats are held about every three years, resulting in a detailed report to guide the board, committees, and staff. The reports are often 10 to 100 pages.
This is a good place for a reminder that busy volunteers seldom have time to read past page two of any document. Brief is nearly always better.
Reconstitute the Plan
If the written plan begins with a table of contents, introductions, an environmental scan, a view of a “desired future,” and finally the “meat” is on the last pages, this can be fixed.
Many plans go on the shelf because staff don’t understand what was decided. Or, the board prefers to “wing it” rather than following a roadmap.
“For a strategic plan to be impactful and meaningful for volunteer leaders to embrace and understand, simplicity is key. From the plan layout, to the choice of words and everything in between, it should be dynamic and capture their attention. Form and function are important,” said Ryan McLaughlin, CEO of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.
“At NVAR, we thought carefully about how our plan would appear on our website so members could easily understand our strategic drivers. A solid existing plan can be revisited with volunteer leaders and reconstituted to create new levels of interest and engagement,” McLaughlin added.
There are many ways to reconstitute the strategic plan.
Form: Extract the key elements of the plan: the mission, goals, priorities, and performance expectations, and condense it to a one- or two-page summary. Drop the fluff about guests who attended and who said what.
PDF: The plan should communicate value. After creating a one or two-page summary, make it a PDF to post on a website and attach to membership emails. Color and design increase interest.
Placemat: If you intend for directors to follow the plan, design it like a placemat to keep on the board table. When new ideas come before the board, the chair should ask, “How does this advance our plan?” Elevate its importance by laminating it.
Membership Brochure: To recruit members, a form is used to collect their data. The strategic plan should be as important to prospects as the membership application. Design the strategic plan and membership application to complement each other.
Business Card: Directors and staff should communicate a consistent message built around mission and goals. Transform the plan to fit business cards.
Poster; Elements of the plan should depict a dynamic association. Organizations have painted their mission and goals on the conference room wall. Create a poster for framing in key areas of the office. Design a pop-up banner to display at the meeting registration desk.
Tracking the Plan
A new strategic plan must be understood by the team. Much of the work will be addressed by committees and staff.
Staff create a program of work or chart to track the plan’s workflow. It should include performance metrics, deadlines and assignments to individuals and committees.
Jay Millson, EVP of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians, shared, “in the past, our leadership was concerned more about wordsmithing and phrasing, but now they focus on value and substance. We’ve been through three cycles of strategic planning cycles since 2014 (including simplifying our mission, vision, values and goals on a business card) and ensuring each strategic priority is logical, provides value to practicing family physicians, and is measurable to determine overall success.”
He added, “Our president-elect is responsible for working with staff on implementation of the strategic plan via benchmarks and progress reports to the executive committee monthly and board quarterly. This process supports strategic planning success through measurable outcomes.”
For the board of directors, track the plan by appointing a volunteer who will be the plan champion. His or her role is to monitor and report on progress. Not only keep the plan on the board table but add it as a discussion item on the agenda, “Strategic Plan Update.”
Some organizations forego a plan champion in favor of goal advocates. The advocates have responsibility for monitoring progress within each goal and how the committees are achieving results.
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