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How to Make Strategic Planning Stick

Many organizations and clients that Raidious works with experience a brief lull during the summer – a side effect of summer vacations, school being out, and everyone being out in the enjoyable weather. Few marketing leaders want to work the late summer hours that often accompany holiday, back to school, or Black Friday campaigns. This lull makes summer an ideal time for strategic planning. In Raidious’ case, our anniversary falls in July, so mid-year always marks the time when we look at our track record and make adjustments to our future path.

The outcome of our summer strategy sessions are sometimes minor, but occasionally they have led to major shifts in how Raidious delivers services and presents itself. We’re fortunate to be small and nimble enough to roll with the punches thrown at us, but as we look out into the world, we see companies that haven’t been as fortunate.

It’s tough for organizations and the people within them to embrace change. Making sure new initiatives and strategies are successful takes fortitude that few organizations readily have on tap. In truth, the follow-up and commitment are where the real work lies.

It’s easy to write a mission statement. It’s harder to ensure the mission gains traction and is accomplished.

As we’ve gone through several years of our own internal planning, I’ve gathered some key thoughts and areas of focus to ensure that internal planning leads to real change.

Be brutally honest, and show your team why the change is needed. “The proof is in the pudding.” It is hard to argue the need for change if everyone can see the problems clearly. Transparency is so important in getting your team to buy into the needed changes. You have to be honest to a fault at times. It can be scary, from both the leader and team perspectives, but ultimate the truth will set you free and get you all working together to make the right things happen for your business.

Create a compelling vision. “The past is of no importance. The present is of no importance. It is with the future that we have to deal.” You are the steward of this change. You are in charge of making something very positive happen, so you and this vision have to be clear and free of ambiguity. Show your team how this new path works FOR them. Show them how you are going to work WITH them to accomplish it.

Designing the changes. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Laying out your change in 6-month, 12-month and 18-month blocks is a great way to show that everyone has time to make the needed changes happen. Drastically changing process obviously isn’t like flipping a light switch. Show your team the full timeline, and assign them their needed tasks and due dates over that timeline.

Make sure it is achievable. “The realist adjusts the sails.” You must have the resources to make the change happen. Double-check that you have the right people, knowledge, financial backing, and time to make the change happen. If you don’t, find a way to get what you need or adjust your plan.

How to announce the changes. “Time to face the music.” Change is scary, so how it is communicated is crucial. I have always been a believer in the 1-on-1 prior to the larger group announcements. Face-to-face, verbal, communication is necessary. No phones, no email.

Anticipating Resistance. “Haters gonna hate.” Listen to their grumps and gripes and carefully consider their feedback. Look for opportunities to meet them in the middle and make concessions where they make sense.

Getting others involved. “It takes a village.” You can’t do this all on your own, and why should you? Control is an illusion, my friend. You have a lot of smart, talented people around you to make this transition easier. Give them ownership and that will only increase their buy-in. Give them heaping piles of public praise as they help you accomplish each milestone.

Make sure it is measurable. “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Create a roadmap for the change. Set milestones, small and large, and make a big deal of them when they are reached. Seeing the vision come to life and celebrating it along the way will only increase consensus around it.

If you need help creating your strategy, implementing it, and making it stick, contact Raidious today.


In Budget Planning for 2017? Check out Digital Budgeting 101



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