In our first blog we looked at some of the general symptoms of not planning, and now we would like to promote some ideas about how to plan effectively. NPL follows some simple guidelines when looking at new projects and working with new clients. We like to begin by creating a strategic plan with all of our clients. We follow a very simple formula: Define the desired outcomes and identifying our audience, set goals, create objectives, create clear briefs and work plans and finally make sure to stay within budget. I think that this is a fairly normal strategic plan for all companies, small or large, but sometimes it helps to say it out loud, just to reinforce it.
Now that we have described how we create our strategic plans it is important to define what steps to take in building a good strategic plan:
- Build ownership throughout the process. Take the time to notice the your different forms of management techniques that you will have to incorporate with your team and be aware of their abilities.
- Maintain support at the top. Great planning is not just built on a superior foundation; it takes involvement to motivate the people around you.
- Keep the process simple and flexible.
- Use the tools available to you, don’t spend time buying new products for a job that can be done with what is available.
- Emphasize effective communications. Always remember to ask your team if they have any questions.
Now that we have defined some of the cornerstones to building an effective strategic plan, we should tell you what you can expect to get out of this type of strategic planning:
- Making the most of limited resources.
- Reducing the number and length of meetings.
- Having clear direction for the organization.
- Creates “stakeholders” in the success of the organization.
- Provides tools to measure effectiveness.
- Improves access to funding by establishing clear connections between community needs and organizational accomplishments.
- Provides for less intimidating and more satisfying involvement from project members.
- Establishes organizational priorities, making the allocation of scarce resources more objective and effective.
- Eliminates the “crisis management” as an organizational management style. Helps an organization to anticipate challenges before they are problems.
These steps for strategic planning and the results may vary depending on your work, but I do believe that if you start with good leadership and a solid foundation of people that you can trust then any project is possible.