Strategic Plan (Carpe Diem)

Looking back

We traveled safely from Washington D.C. to New York on the 7PM train Tuesday, May 12th. The 7:10PM train which could just as easily have been our train was not so lucky. That trip resulted in a fatal derailment that left seven dead and scores injured.

On hearing the news that we were unharmed I got an email from our client in D.C. with the sign-off “carpe diem.”

What are you doing today that connects to your envisioned ten-year achievements?

Indeed.

The aftermath of this terrible accident created a space to think about the big picture. About life, but also about workwhich is undeniably a huge chunk of “life”and the aspirations we set for ourselves therein.

Earlier that day during an organizational alignment workshop I had asked the staffers of our client institution this question: “When you look back ten years from now, what do you want to say that you have been able to achieve as an organization?”

The admonition carpe diem brings this question back to the present. “What are you doing today that connects to your envisioned ten-year achievements?”

Vision

Individual and organizational destiny are intimately intertwined. Most of us spend the bulk of our waking lives dedicated to whatever proposition the organization we work for has set for itself. This proposition is important. I would argue that it is vital.

Individual and organizational destiny are intimately intertwined.

There is also a kind of magic in such a proposition. There is a reason we call it vision. It is necessary to see what you seek to achieve. Envisioning something makes it possible. It does not make it happen, but it does open a kind of rift in the future—a possibility that would otherwise be closed.

Whatever you set out to achieve, whatever you establish as your organizational vision, it should be both aspirational and inspirational, but it should also be true. By true I mean that it is backed up by a plan and by action. By true I also mean that the vision should be actively employed to encourage behaviors that are voluntary, heartfelt and productive of the results that you seek.

A strategic plan

This is all arguably just an emphatic case for a good strategic plan. While these aspirational and inspirational aspects of a strategic plan may feel soft, they are not. They are nearly essential for success. Your vision, illuminated by your plan is what makes possible the achievements you want to be able to look back on with satisfaction. Your strategic plan should guide the means by which you seize the day and with that day in hand, the next and eventually all the rest.

A strategic plan is best when it is simple, clear, useful and inspirational. It is a plan for the achievement of your vision.

At Tronvig Group we tend to speak of brand strategy, but by it we mean what most organizations might call an executed strategic plan—a strategic plan that is not a wish list—a strategic plan that is not a shelf-stuffer or door-stop with 80 pages left mostly unread.

To our view a strategic plan is best when it is simple, clear, useful and inspirational. It is a plan for the achievement of your vision. It is a plan that lays out your “how” for all to see and for all to use in their shared effort to make real your organizational destiny. It is not the many things you could do, but the few important things that you will do to achieve your goals. A strategic plan should also encapsulate the shared vision of your organization and, as such, it should be held in high esteem by all of your employees and stakeholders. The help and creativity of every employee and every stakeholder is what you must seek to muster if you are to get where you want to go.

If no one is using your strategic plan, if it is not referred to in decision making, then you don’t have one. You have instead a strategic door stop. It is probably holding the door closed.

Values

Supporting and enhancing your strategic plan are your organizational values (some call them attributes). These values are the stuff of culture. Culture is the stuff of motivation. Motivation is the stuff of institutional life and vitality.

It is through your employees that your institutional vision comes alive, it is they that shape it through their day-to-day choices, actions and behavior.

A culture, when right, can unlock the autonomous creativity of employees and harness it for the benefit of all. It is through your employees that your institutional vision comes alive, it is they that shape it through their day-to-day choices, actions and behavior.

Just imagine if it was your strategic plan that came to people’s minds and lips when asked, “Why did you come to work today?”

Imagine that.

It is not as implausible as it sounds. A goal without a plan is just a wish. Your strategic plan, if true, gives you the key to unlock today, to unlock tomorrow, the next five years and in special cases, ten. You can do much with a strategic plan that is both a practical tool and an inspiration. I think such a sense of purpose and strategic practicality is necessary for any of us if we are to achieve our bigger goals.

What are you waiting for?

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