Quick! Show of hands—how many of you have been working on your strategic plan for 2021?

Okay… Great! Put your hands down.

Quick! Show of hands—how many of you even remember where you put your strategic plan for 2020?

Okay… Not so great… pick your heads up.

Like purchased-but-unread books on shelves and Kindles, strategic plans do us no good collecting unstrategic dust.

Having helped a few hundred companies and a few thousand people with strategic plans, I have three essential keys for making sure your strategic plan actually helps your company grow with purpose.

1. Review

Plans in drawers don’t help; they hurt your organization. If you went to all the trouble of goal-setting and obstacle identifying and brainstorming, you owe it to your team to follow through.

The best way to ensure follow through is to review your plan:

Review for a few minutes at the end of each day

Review for an hour at the end of each week

Are your goals on track? Is there a bottleneck? If so, move onto number two.

For each goal, can you clearly answer:

  1. What’s the next right thing that needs doing?
  2. Who’s doing it and by when?

And this review is not solely your responsibility, is it? If your team is included in the planning, then they, too, should be including in the doing, and if they’re included in the doing, they should be included in the reviewing as well as the next two steps, including:

2. Refine

Sometimes the playing field changes, doesn’t it? Sometimes old objectives reveal new ones to us. Sometimes we complete goals (we’ll get to that in number 3), and we need to add new ones to further ourselves toward our long-term, big-picture purpose.

Each time you review, ask yourself (and your team) the following three questions:

  1. What’s working well for us? What must not be changed?
  2. Has anything happened in the last week that we need to discuss because it affects one of our objectives?
  3. What or how should we change our plan based on new information from question #2.

Ask these questions of yourself and of your team every week. You’ll be amazed at (A) how much traction you’ll gain, and (B) how unified your team will become toward accomplishing your plan.

3. Celebrate!

I’ve written before about the insights I’ve gained asking companies to tell me about their last three parties. You learn a lot about companies by the things (and frequency with which) they celebrate. It’s important to remember to celebrate little victories—both personal and team—regularly and with joy! What’s the point of working if you don’t enjoy pointing out and relishing what your team does well in their efforts to further your efforts.

How? Get creative! You can find hundreds of ways to celebrate without breaking your bank account or instituting Mandatory Hawaiian Shirt Day. Form a rotating social committee who’s in charge of coming up with regular-no-matter-how-silly awards and rewards. Have fun it with it!

Quick! Show of hands—how many of you are ready to get started?

Okay… Great! Now, what’s the next right thing for you to do?

Let me know when you’ve done it, and I’ll celebrate on your behalf… because you? You are a doer of things needing done, dude.

[Reposted for the new year]