All too often strategic planning processes are high-level, pie-in-the-sky exercises that don’t result in specific strategies that are tied closely to important, measurable outcomes. When developing your strategic plan, it is important for it to produce practical strategies designed to achieve specific, measurable objectives key to your success. Here are three steps to ensuring your strategic plan is actionable.

Step 1

The first step in making the plan actionable is to translate your broad goals into specific, measurable objectives that define achievement of the goal. The sample below is from a strategic plan for an association.

Membership Goal 3-Year Membership Objectives
Maximize membership growth, retention and involvement· Increase membership from 500 to 650
· Increase average meeting attendance to 250
· Achieve 10% committee involvement

Step 2

This translation from goal to objectives is important, but it doesn’t get you to action. The next step is to translate the measurable objectives into specific strategies for action by identifying barriers and critical success factors.

 Critical Success FactorsBarriers
 Dynamic presenters with timely, substantive topics to increase meeting attendance High awareness of association by meeting planners to attract new membersInadequate process for getting new members involved results in burn-out of a few and low retention High membership turnover hinders consistent growth
 Objectives Strategies
 Increase membership from 500 to 650 Increase average meeting attendance from 175 to 250 Achieve 10% committee involvement· Implement PR program to report activities to the local media for increased awareness
· Utilize assessment survey and industry referrals to select quality speakers and topics
· Revise new member registration process to ask desired committee
· Hold quarterly committee fairs after meetings

Step 3

While this last step is helpful, it is still missing timelines and resources. The final step is to take each strategy that is designated as a priority and develop an action plan showing specific steps, by when, resources required, etc. The example below takes one of the priority strategies and identifies the high-level action plan to complete it.

StrategyImplement PR program to report activities to the local media for increased awareness
  Action Plan Responsibility Due Cost Person-Days
1.Develop and distribute standard press release kit PR 3/1/xx $250 3
2.Hold monthly PR reviews to identify upcoming, news­worthy events PR By 5th of each month 0 5 people 1 hr/month

We use our Drivers Model to help move a team from broad aims (goals), to measurable outcomes (objectives), to specific approaches to achieve those outcomes (strategies), to the specific steps to accomplishing the strategies (action plans).