Strategic Plan Deployment

Once all of the phases of the strategic planning process have been completed, it is time to pull it all together and create a concise Strategic Plan that is reviewed, understood and supported by employees throughout the organization. A closed-loop strategic planning and deployment methodology known as Hoshin Kanri or Hoshin Planning is often used to visualize the future and effectively develop, implement and evaluate the strategic plan. Hoshin Kanri methodology helps focus organizational efforts on issues of strategic importance, build consensus and align people, goals, projects, actions, metrics, and resources behind the most critical challenges facing the organization. To determine realistic means for effective deployment of the strategic plan, many organizations use the inter-level negotiation process called Catchball where all employees have an opportunity to add value to the various elements of the strategic plan and provide feedback based on the their knowledge and experience in specific functional areas. Cross-functional integration, change management, organizational alignment, and actual implementation of the strategic plan tend to be the most challenging aspects of the strategic planning process. They require a strong sense of personal ownership and accountability, effective communication, interprofessional collaboration, ongoing monitoring and control, unwavering leadership commitment, and meaningful employee participation at all levels of the organization. Organizational structures, systems and processes to empower people with the appropriate degree of authority and support change efforts must be purposefully designed, evaluated and implemented. Repeated use of the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle is useful to continually refine the SMART objectives, adjust allocation of resources, rapidly test ideas for improvement, update action plans, and build knowledge that is necessary to institutionalize and standardize change.

Robust monitoring and control processes are vital to manage deployment of the strategic plan, evaluate and address the newly identified risks, prioritize change requests, and ensure that key deliverables resulting from the projects and action plans conform to the applicable requirements and quality standards. If monitoring and control processes do not get sufficient leadership attention there is a real possibility that all the effort put into strategic planning will be wasted. Many organizations are quite complex entities and a number of unexpected developments may make the action plans inoperable or employees may simply be unable to meet their commitments. Basic monitoring and control concepts involve setting realistic performance targets, measuring and comparing actual performance with targets, identifying root causes of unacceptable variance, taking corrective actions, updating plans in accordance with the integrated change control process, documenting lessons learned, and re-establishing performance targets when indicated. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Balanced Scorecard, Gantt Charts, Control Charts, formal leadership reviews, project phase gate reviews, project status reports, internal audits, and ongoing team meetings are some of the essential means to track and communicate progress, outline new developments, identify issues and challenges, obtain feedback, evaluate the impact of changes, and sustain participation of stakeholders at every level of the organization.