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Tips to Move Your Strategic Plan to Completion

Completing your strategic plan is on your to-do list, right? But is it slipping lower and lower down the list? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! In fact, most everyone in the planning process struggles with the same problem. Completing your strategic plan and maintaining momentum with implementing it are arguably two of the most important things you have to do. Following are some ideas to help stay on track.

Planning tip: Conquer procrastination

The greatest source of procrastination is often a deep-seeded fear — fear of success, change, failure, ridicule, or even just the unknown. Take a daily step to remove your fears by asking yourself, “What would I do today if I was really brave?”

Consider Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.), which provides the 21 most effective methods for conquering procrastination and getting more done in less time. Success comes by identifying that single most important task (or frog) that needs to be accomplished, concentrating on it to do it well, and finishing it completely.

As Tracy points out, “Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.” So go ahead, be brave and eat that frog!

Planning tip: Take control of your finances

Do you feel like you’re on a treadmill, working more to pay for ever-increasing bills? Instead, trim the fat and spend a little less here and there. You’ll soon free up budget dollars that you can utilize on securing needed resources that will help you manage a successful strategic plan. Or, if you have enough savings, start an employee incentive program if you don’t have one already.

Start by running a Profit and Loss report to see exactly how you’re spending your money. Then adjust your budget, making sure that what you purchase is in line with your business. Obviously, a business with a big focus on sales incurs more expenses for client lunches than one without.

Consider decreasing every category (except maybe your rent and payroll) by 10 percent. Use the money saved to fuel your dreams instead of feeding the treadmill.

Planning tip: Let the process evolve

When the flywheel of momentum starts turning, pay attention to clues, connections, and opportunities that are presented. Be aware of environmental shifts and market changes that will affect your organization. With a little agility, allow your future to unfold and change in ways you may not have been able to imagine when you started your planning process. Remember, your strategic plan is a work in progress. Have a goal in mind but be flexible on the process of getting there. Doing so will make the process much easier.

Planning tip: Highlight small wins

Overlooking the short-term successes because you’re looking at the mid-term or long-term horizon is an easy trap to fall into. Because strategic management is a process and an organizational journey, help your staff members stay motivated by acknowledging their progress along the way. The obvious time to highlight progress is when you’re reviewing your plan during your monthly or quarterly strategy reviews.

Call out the small wins by specifically identifying what was accomplished, why it’s important to the strategic direction, and how the success was achieved. Additionally, point out small wins as they occur so everyone can feel the continued momentum.

Planning tip: Be committed

No matter what your organizational goals are or how difficult they are to achieve, creating momentum to reach them starts with commitment. Be committed to the strategic management process by starting with at least one of the ideas in this chapter, and you’ll begin moving closer to your dreams. Then take on the next idea and then maybe another one. Borrow some encouragement from that famous shoe slogan and “just do it!” You’ll be happier in the end and will be glad you did it.

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