Strategic Planning CPR: How to Breath Life Back Into Your Strategic Plan

February 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Higher Education, Strategic Planning

Recently I had a conversation about strategic planning with a past higher education client. We discussed the challenge in staying on course when taking action on a strategic plan.  The time commitment to develop an actionable strategic plan is not small. However, the real challenge lies in implementation. Our conversation reminded me of an interview I did a few years ago.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed on The Business Dig, a blog radio show hosted by Lisa Kanda and Debra Frey, Our discussion focused on challenges in successful strategic plan implementation and steps to get back on track.  The focus of this interview was not necessarily on strategic planning in higher education, however the message is applicable.

Has it been awhile since you’ve reviewed your strategic plan? Here is a link to listen to how to get back to your plan.  Strategic Planning CPR: How to Breath Life Back into your Strategic Plan

The four steps below are highlights from the interview to get back to taking action on your strategic plan.


Dust off your strategic plan and take a hard look at it. If it’s been one or two quarters since you last reviewed the document, organize a review session (ideally a half-day retreat) with a committee of key administrative or academic representatives from your school or department. The goal is to re-engage.  Consider the goals listed in the plan and discuss where you are today.

Refine Plan

Does the plan in its current state resonate with where you want to be in the next 18 months?  If not, how can the goals and initiatives be adjusted? What are five key actions that need to take place in the next quarter to get started?

Take Action

The next steps are pure action planning.  Designate an owner of the plan to steer implementation. Discuss and allocate resources needed. Define and agree on immediate next steps for implementation.

Report Progress Regularly

Create a strategic plan dashboard to track progress on key initiatives. How will progress be communicated? What is the communication mechanism? Who is accountable for managing communication?  Who is included on the distribution list?

Questions about starting a strategic planning initiative at your institution or department? Contact me at [email protected].

Return on Consulting Engagement

September 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Implementation

The end of each consulting engagement always brings a bittersweet moment when I say good-bye to a client and when we confirm we’ll “look forward to keeping in touch” during the wrap up conference call. I genuinely hope, after our months of collaboration, developing a strategic plan or guiding an organizational change effort, that the product delivers the benefit we diligently worked to refine.

Although my day-to-day interaction ends, my commitment to your success remains. I often consider those necessary next steps that will allow a client to maximize engagement results.  Four specific actions come to mind:

Assign an Owner. Every engagement wrap up typically includes a set of actions for implementation. Assign oversight to an individual to shepherd that implementation. And take it one step further—develop clear performance metrics tied to implementation activities and results.

Execute the recommendations. What must be done in the next 60 days? Who needs to be involved? What resources are needed? Engaging a consultant is always a strategic investment. The real investment, however, doesn’t end when the consultant exits. Having a plan in place and an owner to guide implementation is only the beginning: Execute the recommendations.

Communicate Progress Widely. How does the company communicate progress? Which audiences benefit from that information? What is the message?  How often do you communicate?  Develop a clear communication plan that explicitly defines audience, message, timing, communication tool, and content owner. Revisit the communication plan often to monitor effectiveness; tweak when needed.

Perform 90-180 day Health Checks. Has the progress in executing recommendations met expectations?  What are the successes?  Where do opportunities for improvement exist? Revisit the engagement recommendations and compare them to the progress of the execution. Adjust the ongoing work plan as needed.

After following these steps, what further thoughts do you have on your engagement return on investment?