While developing your strategic plan (i.e., purpose, values, mission, vision, goals, objectives and strategies), you are building potential energy, similar to that of roller-coaster cars climbing the initial big hill. Then it’s time for kinetic energy to take over as the roller-coaster cars rush down from the top of the hill—as you put your plans into action! It can be very exciting—and sometimes a little scary.
Action plans are what brings your strategic plan to life—to identify the detailed tactics (action steps), to schedule the timeline for accomplishing them, to identify the resources required, and to assign people to each task. This is the proverbial “rubber meeting the road.”
Dale Carnegie, author of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, wrote, “William James said, ‘When once a decision is reached and execution is the order of the day, dismiss absolutely all responsibility and care about the outcome.’ He meant that once you have made a careful decision based on facts, go into action. Don’t stop to reconsider. Don’t begin to hesitate, worry and retrace your steps. Don’t lose yourself in self-doubting which begets other doubts. Don’t keep looking over your shoulder. There comes a time when any more investigation and thinking are harmful. There comes a time when we must decide and act and never look back.”
Implementing your action plan requires making a decision to step into your fear so you can experience the fruits of your planning labor. It is always exciting when the fruits of your labor become visible—a bountiful harvest that serves your customers, employees, and community.
If you have employees, let everyone in your organization have a vested interest in implementing the action plan so they can feel an integral part of your organization’s success. Include pieces of the action plan in your employees’ Individual Development Plans (IDPs). Then coach them so that their fears and frustrations will be minimized and they will be successful.
If you are the company right now, prioritize and get busy on what’s most important and valuable for your business to succeed. Get good at contracting out those tasks that are not the best use of your talents, skills, abilities, and passions. As Michael Gerber says in his bestselling book, The E-Myth Revisited, develop the habit of “Working on the business, not in the business.”
Here are some considerations for developing your Action Plans:
- Identify and prioritize your Goals, Objectives, and Strategies
- Ask yourself, “For each Strategy, what Tactics or tasks need to happen in order to get this done?” These are the specific day-to-day actions that need to be taken. This is also a good opportunity to get input from those who will be assigned the tasks.
- Determine the priority (A, B, or C) for each task. An “A” priority denotes a task that definitely has to be done in order to accomplish the goal. A “B” priority task would enhance the goal, but if it’s not completed, the goal can still be achieved. A “C” priority is nice to do if you get around to it, or it can be achieved in the process of accomplishing something else. Nonetheless, it will have little effect on achieving the goal.
- When should this task be scheduled to begin? When should it be completed?
- How much will this task cost to complete?
- Who will be responsible for completing this task?
- What other resources will be needed for completing this task?
When all these steps and questions have been answered for each task, you will have the full picture of what it will take to accomplish the action plan.
In addition to its guidance, this detail work will become a vital part of your financial plan and budgeting process. You’ll be able to see the cash flow requirements clearly, and it will also help you to decide whether the goals need to be phased into your current operations or to be deferred to a later date.
Enjoy moving from the potential energy of planning to the kinetic energy of action.
Much success and fulfillment,
(Adapted from Chapter 9 in my new book Energize Your Business: Engage Your Employees with an Inspiring Strategic Planning Process. Read free chapters and learn more at www.EnergizeYourBusiness.biz .)