From strategic plan to work plan

May 24, 2011

Filed under: Strategic Planning — Tags: , — jonathanpoisner @ 8:10 pm

I’m often struck when talking to people how often individual work plans are wholly disconnected from strategic plans.  Or even more by how some organizations never develop work plans.

A good strategic plan should set the structure for work plans.  Every member of staff should have a work plan, as should board members.

The strategic plan should list out some combination of goals, strategies, tactics, and objectives.  These should cover both your programmatic mission-driven goals, as well as your institutional goals.

Individual work plans should flow from the strategic plan.  It should identify each tactic you’re working on, what strategy and goal that tactic is connected to, what you’re doing in more detail and by when each major step should be completed.  Don’t just say:  We’ll issue the Legislative Scorecard in September.  You should break that down into its major pieces;  Initiate selecting votes and do research in July, Select votes and do writing/design in August, Release in September, etc.

Each individual should have a work plan.  It should clearly identify for each of these goals/strategies/tactics what you’re doing, who’s doing it, and by when.  Excel can be one way to make this visually flow.  But you can do it effectively in Word if you haven’t mastered the wonders of Excel formatting.

If you find yourself putting something in your work plan that can’t be clearly linked to one of your programmatic or institutional goals, it probably means you shouldn’t be doing it.

Board members also need work plans.  They’re more likely to be narrowly focused on a few institution-building goals (fundraising, accountability, financial management).

You can draft these plans either bottom up or top down.  Bottom up: You can ask each individual to go through the strategic plan and draft their work plan and then somebody has the task of making sure everything’s covered and, if not, assigning tasks by editing work plans as appropriate.  Top down: the Executive Director can start with the strategic plan and draft these for each individual.

Drafting these plans should be done in a way that makes sure that all the individual plans add up to accomplishing the strategic plan, or at least the piece of the strategic plan that you aim to accomplish in the next year.

You then need to hold yourself accountable to the work plans.  If you create your work plan for individual staff and then never look back at it over the course of the year, it’s probably not an effective work planning process.   Even the best staff needs a supervisor who meets with them monthly and going over the work plan is something that should happen at the meeting.  Evaluation of staff (and board) performance should focus first and foremost on whether the work plan was implemented and how effectively the work was done.

So build time for this accountability into the work plans themselves!

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1 Comment »

  1. […] I’ve previously written about the importance of generating work plans once wrapping up strategic planning. […]

    Pingback by Thinking about triggers in work plans « Jonathan Poisner — June 19, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

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