Every Strategic Plan Needs a Story

By Linda DeLuca, Executive Coach – You and your leadership team have worked hard to develop a strong, fearless strategic plan. You’re next mission is to make sure each employee understands clearly where the organization is headed and how their daily activities contribute to its success. If you succeed, your organization will outperform the competition.

Your organization is unique. There is no cookie-cutter scorecard, powerpoint template, or email script that can reach your employees in a way that gets them motivated and keeps them moving forward until the plan is fully executed.

Gathering your organization for an all-hands meeting to present your strategic plan is a good start, but as soon as they leave the room, the motivation and focus begins to wane.

It’s your job as a leader to understand what’s important to your team and communicate your plan in a clear and actionable way. A way that will not only kick start the plan, but keep it moving forward day by day, person by person.

There is a better way to communicate your strategic plan effectively. Here are a few tips the Fearless Team at Transcend has gathered from its extensive experience.

CLEAR AND COMPLETE

First and foremost you and your leadership team must be clear on the strategic plan and the message you’ll share.

It’s best to use clear and regular language to avoid misinterpretation. Limit the use of jargon or cliché phrases that hold no meaning. Plain and simple is best.

During your planning process, you and your team engaged in constructive discussions. Remember, every employee did not have the benefit of that meeting and will have questions about the process. Give them what they need and include the 5 W’s in your presentation and messages: who, why, what, where, when.

strategic planSHOW AND TELL

Reach every employee where it counts. Gaining buy-in for the plan includes not only making it clear what’s in it for them, but also reaching them emotionally. Nothing reaches us on an emotional level better than a story.

A scorecard or powerpoint is great for summing up the quantitative measures, but it won’t get to the heart of the matter. A narrative (story) helps to make the personal connection.

A strategic narrative (story) captures the ‘before,’ ‘now,’ and ‘to be’ journey your organization is about to take. It helps to paint a picture of how your organization’s past, present, and future fit together. With a story, each employee is taking the hero’s journey toward success.

NOW AND LATER

Once you have a clear and complete message in visual and narrative formats, you need to keep the strategic plan alive.

It’s important to communicate the plan at the onset of implementation, but it doesn’t end there. The key to success lies in continuing the conversation.

Each member of your organization must understand how their daily activities tie to the success of the strategic plan. Each individual, including your strategic leadership team, need to build into their daily work-life a way to connect themselves to that plan.

Integrating daily activities with the strategic plan is best experienced in multiple formats. The classic scorecard poster on the wall and the quarterly strategic plan status meetings are a good start.

Bring it to the next level by incorporating alignment to the strategic plan with each new project, client, key decision, and daily work prioritization.

How are your most important tasks for today supporting your strategic plan?