Submitted by Marc Rolfes on March 9, 2015 - 10:07

Implementation Planning: the critical half of strategic planning

“The only worthwhile strategy is one which can be executed,” or so says Justin King, the former CEO of Sainsbury’s, one of the UK’s largest grocery companies. I happen to agree. I also strongly recommend that strategic plans have specific, measurable performance objectives so everyone knows when the plan is in fact “executed.” According to a 2012 survey by the Association for Strategic Planning, only 51% of the 973 nonprofit executives who responded to the survey indicated their plan has defined performance outcomes.

To dramatically increase the chance that a strategic plan can and will be implemented, I suggest starting the implementation dialogue prior to the completion of the strategic plan. Implementation planning is the purview and responsibility of the staff. The Executive Director/President along with the Board are responsible for setting the goals and objectives, but it’s up to the staff to determine how to achieve the desired results.

Working with staff at various nonprofits to develop their implementation plans has also demonstrated to me how empowering this process can be for staff. There is a real teamwork element to determining the tactics, tasks, resources, monitoring approach and assigning responsibility, that with the commitment of the Board to the needed resources, the strategic plan becomes everyone’s plan.

An organization armed with both their strategic plan and the implementation plan has a much higher probability of achieving the desired results – improved mission effectiveness. And since that is the purpose of strategic planning, consider implementation planning as the critical half of strategic planning.