The One Page Strategic Plan: The PureReinvention Approach to Strategic Planning
Keep the plan short, sweet and MANAGEABLE!
We know that strategic plans in the past have always been cumbersome. Strategic plans are an exercise that people do on a weekend or a staff retreat, and then it sits on a shelf. If it’s one page and easily digestible, you’re more apt to keep it in front of you.
Over the years, I have seen tremendous effort being put into creating large, well detailed strategic plans. When I watch the behavior of a lot of energy and money spent on these massive strategic plans that ultimately sat on the shelf, that did not make a lot of sense to me.
There was something about that entire process that was not working. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that an effective plan should be small enough to commit to memory and readily accessible on a daily basis by the primary owners who are charged to implement the plan. Hence, the one page strategic plan.
Last year, we interviewed Dru Mitchell with the Clinton County Economic Alliance. She recently developed a strategic plan with her board of directors. Dru keeps her plan on her desk and uses it to assess priorities and does an exceptional job of reinforcing the importance of the one-page strategic plan.
“So how does this drive what I do on a daily basis now? I keep my little schematic on the top of my desk and as I get a phone call or an invitation to a meeting or an email or do outreach in the community, I look at what the opportunity is that’s being presented to me and whether it fits into one of our market segments. It helps me evaluate how I prioritize what I do now.”
We have to focus on why we are doing a strategic plan to begin with. Traditionally, we felt obligated to fill volumes of sheets of paper and put it in a notebook. In reality, what a strategic plan needs to be is a guide for the executive or for the business to understand where it’s going. That’s successful strategic planning!
Here are a few tips you can use to develop your one page strategic plan:
1. Start with the end in mind
If you think about how we navigate, we look at a map to visualize where we are going. A business should be no different. If we do not have an idea of where we want to go, or are not in agreement, we are destined to fail. It is very important to give the business a very clear path to where the business should go. Step one, start with the end in mind. You have to have the why.
2. Identify your owners
I think it’s absolutely critical if you’re going to get in a car and you’re going to drive down the road, you’ll want to know who’s driving?
In organizations, you need to know who the decision makers are: Who is actually going to do the work? Is this the work of a hundred people or is this the work of one? I can’t begin to tell you the number of executives I’ve talked to who have gone through strategic plans that know in their gut during the day they’re going through this process that the discussion that’s happening is so overwhelming it would take hundreds of people to accomplish what’s being put into this plan. They’ve quit before they’ve even started.
So by understanding who the ownership really belongs to and by ownership I mean who’s really in charge of the implementation. I’m not talking about ownership in terms of who’s really overseeing the project. Whoever is overseeing the chore is different than who’s actually doing the chore.
3. Be realistic
It’s all about the implementation. We can write a lot of fun and crazy things into our strategic plan. However, if I am being evaluated on a successful implementation, then I really have to be able to think through how do I make the strategic plan realistic. Simple steps, simple goals, and simple implementation strategies. I have seen pages and pages and pages of tactics and sub-tactics in a strategic plan. At that point no one has any ownership or understands why. So by keeping it realistic, by focusing on what can I realistically implement, we can keep it simple.
It’s just simple logic. So when you think about how you prioritize, how you go to work and how you prepare for your day, you have created a logic sequence. So in your strategic plan, since you can’t do everything at once, what is your logic sequence? How do you prioritize so that when you have a finite amount of energy you are making sure that energy is allocated towards the right things at the right times? So you’re not focusing on step ten with your energy when you need to be focusing on step one.
That’s where a lot of people get hung up. It’s hard because there are so many demands in your day to day. It’s easy to talk about it right now when you’re not under pressure. Dru Mitchell made a good point in what she said because she looks back at that one pager. When she gets calls and when she gets demands for her time, she’s able to say, “Where does that fall on my list of priorities?”
Because her strategic plan is one page, not only does it help her and remind her where her priorities are, it reminds the business where the priorities are, it reminds the board where the priorities are. So, instead of a lot of brainstorming and great ideas that are beginning to be thrown together, we are able to in fact reverse that and make sure that we’re constantly reminding everyone of these four key steps and making sure that we’re following a logic sequence to get to a very understandable set of goals.
To help you on your way, we’ve created a guide to creating the one page strategic plan. Please share your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.