In hundreds of conversations and interviews with leadership development professionals, three pain points came up repeatedly:
- “I don’t have the buy-in from all the senior leaders.”
- “I don’t have enough budget.”
- “I have no place at the table.”
A clear strategic plan can help you combat each of these issues.
And even if you don’t have these problems, a strategic plan offers a lot. It can help you stay focused on what matters, communicate your strategy more clearly to your team and stakeholders, and achieve your goals.
For this article, Matthew Painter Ph.D., director of leadership development at UAB Medicine (the University of Alabama at Birmingham), shared his process for developing a strategic plan. He broke down his entire framework and shared ideas on how to apply it.
How the painter constructed his model
Painter did not come to UAB Medicine with an existing framework. He researched, built and refined his model over time:
“When I embarked on this process for UAB Medicine, I started with a simple framework in which I asked myself about short-term and long-term improvement.
In the short term, I asked: how can we optimize what we are already doing? Are we doing things right?
Long term, I asked: are we positioned for lasting impact? Are we doing the right things? It doesn’t matter if we do them well if we don’t do the right things.
These questions then evolved into a more detailed model.
The painter built four key pillars:
- What is our commitment to stakeholders?
- What is the organizational impact?
- Are our programs effective?
- Are our operations efficient?
This became the impetus for his model, where he added questions, goals, and tactics:
To populate this template, Painter follows a five-step process.
First step: Clarify your mission, vision and values.
The painter launches his model with a mission, a vision and values.
He said, “The process starts with clarifying the mission, vision and values. It seems obvious, but I think we often overlook this step. These components are our compass. At UAB, we had a conversation about our team values and the importance of revisiting them. We also encourage our internal stakeholders to do the same.
From this solid foundation, Painter then begins to collect data.
Second step: collect data: go deep and wide
Data collection feeds into your plan for adding sustainable value.
Painter described six ways his team collects data at UAB Medicine.
- Brainstorm: Brainstorm with your team using Peter Drucker’s five questions. 1) What is your job? 2) Who are your customers? 3) What does your customer appreciate? 4) What results are you trying to achieve? 5) What is your project?
- Pre-briefs: Ask, “What would make this event meaningful and effective? And what is the best way to add lasting value?”
- Debriefings or After-Action Reviews (AARs): “The AARs have been an extremely rich source of improvement for us. We have made a commitment: for each substantive event we deploy, we carry out an AAR. We have identified many things that we need to improve in terms of operations and added value. »
- Stakeholder input: “There are all kinds of stakeholder input that we need to look at. Are there data sets? What existing datasets are available, such as employee engagement or flash surveys? What discussion groups should we organize? At UAB, we have a Stakeholder Advisory Council made up of a cross-section of key stakeholders that we use as an ongoing discussion group. »
- Literature reviews: “We review all relevant literature around our target issues.” We continue to review external data and best practices and adopt and adapt literature where it makes sense. Essentially, we conduct action research.
- The success factors approach: “If you haven’t done anything else, do this: ask yourself or your stakeholders, ‘What are the success factors associated with our service?’ It gives you plenty of fuel to improve.
The idea here is to cast a wide net in terms of who you approach and How? ‘Or’ What you approach them.
Third step: make sense of the data and generate tactics
Collecting data is not enough to launch your strategic plan.
How can we make sense of this data? What tactics could you deploy to address the issues and opportunities uncovered during the data collection phase? How could you meet these needs?
Painter is a fan of crowdsourcing and thought-provoking partnerships. The best ideas often come from the stakeholders themselves.
Step Four: Think About Your Short-Term and Long-Term Priorities
Now that you’ve cast your wide net, you can start sorting through what you’ve collected to focus on how you want to act.
“You have all these ideas for action, so you have to know what to do with all this data? How do you prioritize it? You have these short-term and long-term goals that are essential. You don’t want to do things just because that they are easy. It’s about clarifying your priorities. It helps you to separate certain emotions from your priorities. It’s also about defining your resource needs.
Think of this as your Pareto principal. What 20% of your team’s work will lead to 80% of your results?
Step Five: Create a Clear, Acceptable, and Socialized Plan
Painter outlined three essential things to keep in mind when writing your plan:
- Clarity: Strategic goals and roles should be as simple as possible. What goal do we want to achieve, and is everyone clear about their role in achieving it?
- Acceptable: Make your plan accessible and easy to digest. Suppose it will be distributed.
- Socializing: Make sure everyone is on the same page. Execute your plan with your stakeholders and ask them for feedback and additional feedback. It’s about getting input, but it’s also about inviting your stakeholders into the process and aligning.
From this point on, your plan becomes your hub for daily and long-term action.
Step Six: Communicate Regularly to Establish Accountability and Refine Your Plan
Without communication, your plan is just an abstract document. Communicate regularly to maintain engagement and visibility.
- Accountability: Communicating your plan ensures that tracked goals don’t get lost. It anchors goals in your daily life and breaks down long-term goals into assigned tasks at the individual level. Regular feedback loops are necessary to ensure execution.
- Feedback: When you communicate your plan to your stakeholders and team, you create a feedback system. Your stakeholders and teammates will help you identify when your actions are deviating. The result is a constant stream of comments.
- Growth: Your plan should change and improve as you execute it. As stakeholders and teammates communicate their experiences and learnings from the field, you can modify, adjust, and reshape your plan.
Your strategic plan is your engine of growth
Follow this process to build and refine a robust and sustainable growth engine.
Kevin Kruse is the founder and CEO of LEADx, a leadership development system that changes and maintains habits through micro-coaching and behavioral encouragement. Kevin is also a New York Times bestselling author of Great leaders have no rules, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management and Employee Engagement 2.0.
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