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How will your strategic plan come to life so your association can achieve its goals and strategies?

If you keep the following in mind as you create your plan, the implementation process will go much more smoothly. 

Communicate and Seek Input

Tell everyone:

  • why the association is developing a plan,
  • how the plan will be used within the association, and
  • the impact the plan will have on the association.

Seek input from representative groups within and outside the association. This toolkit contains various ways to do this; find the one that works best for your association. This will be determined by your association’s culture and size.

An effective plan cannot be developed in a vacuum. Be aware of trends in the field and the environment in which you work. Ensure the resulting strategies and goals of your plan are aligned with any higher-level organizational goals.

Keep It Alive

Once the plan is formed, keep it moving. Encourage leadership to reference the plan and keep it in front of members. Demonstrate that the association supports implementing the plan and doesn’t want it to sit on a shelf. Update the information regularly to reflect the association’s progress and accomplishments.

When you implement strategies, you implement change, and that can be a lot of work. Engage more people and spread the workload. This will help strengthen everyone’s sense of ownership in the plan and rally support for the changes.

Spread activities out over the life of the plan. Review the strategies and determine the best places to start. This may be influenced by opportunities for quick successes or by an annual cycle of organizational activities.

Monitor Your Progress

Metrics and clear expectations make it possible to see the progress you make on a strategy, what successes you have, and when you accomplish a goal.

Keep the plan visible by integrating it into regular activities such as staff meetings and professional development plans. Drill down from strategies to show how they relate to daily activities.

Develop action plans for individual initiatives within the plan. Determine who is responsible for what, when it will be started and completed, and what steps are needed to achieve final results. This will help determine when adjustments are needed and make progress more apparent.

Recognizing even partial accomplishments and progress can be rewarding and motivating. Keep resources focused on implementing the initiatives, not on tracking progress.

Don’t wait until a project or plan is completed to recognize and celebrate. Recognize past accomplishments, and recognize milestones during the implementation of an initiative.

Stay Fluid

Plans are not written in stone. As you implement your plan, monitor trends and the environment. Track the implementation approaches that work well and those that need refinement, then adapt future implementation approaches.

Strategic planning is not about producing a plan; it’s about leadership engaging others to achieve the organization’s vision. Planning falls short when the course is charted, the direction set, and nothing more happens. Strategic planning involves charting a direction, determining the course, and reaching a destination. You need a plan to implement goals and strategies to reach your destination.