Cascade Goals to Annual Action Plans - dummies

By Erica Olsen

By the time company managers get to the action planning part of strategic planning, many are tired and worn out from all the work leading up to this point. But don’t stop yet! Setting action items and to-dos for each short-term goal is essential. The next step is to connect those goals with people, deadlines, and costs.

Although coming up with an action plan for each goal may seem like a monumental task, here are a few ways to simplify the process:

  • List the concrete steps or to-dos that you need to accomplish in order to achieve your goals. You don’t need to list every single action item for each goal — that may take all year.

  • Focus on identifying large to-dos that warrant discussion at a team level. Stay away from big items that are so big that you don’t know where to start.

  • Identify all the actions that need to occur within the next 90 days. Continue this same process every 90 days until the goal is achieved.

To develop your action plan, take a look at these approaches:

  • Cascading directly to individuals: Because every short-term goal is assigned to a person or to department managers, you can have each party develop action items for the goal it’s responsible for. Then reconvene as a group and discuss each action plan. The benefit to this approach is speed and personal buy-in. The drawback is you may miss out on group ideas.

  • Cascading to department managers then to individuals: With your strategic planning team or a group of staff members who are impacted by the goal, you can identify the next actions for each short-term goal. The benefit of working in a group is the ability to generate a lot of ideas about how best to achieve the goal and cascade it. The drawback is that action planning in a group setting can take a long time.