Winston Churchill once said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Once upon a time, employees implemented strategies that were supposedly focused on the organizations overarching goals. Some of these divine plans may have been made in a vacuum with little or no input from team players.
Others were probably the results of creativity and innovation on the part of aspiring staff attempting to effect positive change. Both require a look at the end results as well as the path forward.
When someone mentions the word strategy it creates one of two types of responses: dread or excitement for a new opportunity. Either way, the way we approach strategies today continues to evolve over time. For example, some may approach the development of a strategy by looking a lessons learned and then building on an antiquated foundation. In this tech-focused age, it is imperative that unique as well as new approaches to solving organizational challenges be made. This may require a new vision that acknowledges best practices but does not solely rely on them to move the organization’s mission forward.
Some people dread the need to create strategies because it is perceived as a mountain of work that may not provide the highly valued metrics we all crave, especially during employee evaluation time. This is an opportunity to “right-size” your perception regarding the development of a strategy. This includes leveraging the S.M.A.R.T. goals principle to enhance your project approach. SMART stands for:
- Specific: target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
- Achievable: ensure you have the team, time and tools to get the work done.
- Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved given available resources.
- Time-bound: identify when the result can be achieved.
Also, don’t forget the creative aspect of strategies. When presented with a work challenge, take time out to consider all of the possibilities, not just the ones management asked you to consider. It may be a struggle at first to consider the possibilities outside the original goal. However, once you try this approach, you can envision the bigger picture when it comes to creating and implementing a plan focused on measurable results. There are creative tools such as unstructured brainstorming sessions, mind maps and more than can help generate innovative approaches to strategic planning endeavors.
Take time to identify ways to measure your results. For example, will you use an online tool, manual assessment or simply rely on a third party to generate the data for you? Either way, you need to assess your progress as well as determine how to overcome barriers to the plan’s success. Moreover, be willing to take a necessary step back to determine if the process is stagnating efforts or moving the organization forward.
Lastly, there are other benefits to learning how to evolve the approach to developing strategies. Once you learn how to make an effective plan, you can then mirror that effort to design strategies for your professional goals. I had a former director who once told me that if I have plans, I should write them down in order to achieve them. She said this is the start of creating a career- oriented strategy that will set the foundation for my career. And she was right.
Tracey Batacan is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.