Strategic planning needs to be current; it needs to be a framework and a guide that organizations use on a routine basis – not something that is put up on a shelf never agreed to, finalized or executed.

Effective strategic plans should be structured enough so that smaller units of the organization have a clear understanding of how their organization fits into broader strategic initiatives.  This is true whether the process used is bottom up (employee driven) or top down (leadership driven). The ultimate strategic planning document should be written as a framework with all key elements – simple enough that smaller organizations can see how they fit in it.

Metrics and performance expectations need to be made clear and incorporated into the planning document. Most importantly, there needs to be a way to determine on a regular basis if the plan is still relevant and the metrics (or success measures) have been met. That’s why timetables and metrics are needed.  Without measurements (outcome/or impact measures are preferred), a strategic plan is a paper exercise.

Many plans are not developed for implementation and leaders do not insist on their application or relevance.  Accountabilities must be included in strategic plans for proper execution.  When accountabilities are shown by department, organizational leaders, managers and supervisors need to be functionally aligned so they can properly communicate performance expectations to every member of the organization.

Strategic plans that are too detailed and require an exhaustive effort can immobilize employees instead of empowering them.  Strategic planning should empower workers, instead of devouring their time. Empowerment only comes through dialogue about the strategic plan, expectations of employees and by involving them throughout the process.