The ABCs of Implementing Your Strategic Plan to Deliver Value

The ABCs of Implementing Your Strategic Plan to Deliver Value
The ABCs of Implementing Your Strategic Plan to Deliver Value
By Lyndsey Scofield, Principal

As a leadership team and organization, you've just done the hard work of setting aside the urgent of the day-to-day in order to focus on the important work of creating or updating your Strategic Plan, the document that guides strategic decisionmaking and resources in the short term in pursuit of your longer-term vision. The truth is, the work has just begun.

Now, more than ever, it's critical to leverage your strategic plan to demonstrate the value you're delivering to your community beyond the latest ridership figures. This proactive focus on results that matter will position your organization to communicate on offense rather than defense, as well as build the resilience of your organization to respond to future challenges.

Below are some ABCs that can help you to successfully implement your strategic plan and ensure that you are able to demonstrate value to your Board, customers, stakeholders, elected officials, and more.

  1. Accept the Art of Adaptation - Dwight D. Eisenhower is credited with the wise saying, "Plans are useless, but planning is essential." While we want to avoid moving the goal post too often, implementing the plan is where we have an opportunity to assess whether some thoughtful adjustments would actually be beneficial to our success, either because actual results bring us more clarity, or because there are major external factors that have changed. The strategic planning process gives us the tools to ask the questions: Is this change in alignment with our mission and vision? Will this help us achieve outcomes that matter to our community?
  2. Build Better Systems - Inevitably, we will discover some areas that are ripe for some type of system or process improvement in order to implement a new performance measure or more efficiently deliver a tactic. Do build in longer term investments in systems and process into future strategic plans, but also capitalize on the simple improvements that can be made as you go, like automating a report or creating a streamlined workflow.
  3. Commit to a Cadence - It can be tempting to wait until all the data can be assembled and all the kinks have been worked out before reporting out results, but we've seen this become a major stumbling block for organizations. Before you know it, you're reviewing data that is 6 months out of date, and now have a limited opportunity to change course to meet your goals for the year.

How have we put these tips into action at TransPro?

Adapt - In our first quarter of reporting our own performance scorecard, we realized that some of our metrics needed some refinement. There were some metrics that were interesting to track, but when we really scrutinized what they were telling us and questioned how important they were to measuring our success, we realized they just didn't pass muster. So we decided to drop them and keep focused on the metrics that were more meaningful.

Build - When our team brainstormed the metrics that would best equip us to measure our success, we didn't necessarily know how we would go about measuring them with our current systems. But we knew that we didn't want system or process limitations to stop us from adopting a useful metric. We started by challenging our analyst team to figure out how to use our existing data in new ways in order to calculate baseline performance measures. We're now in the process of capturing requirements for new systems that will enable us to track these metrics more efficiently and effectively.

Commit - As an organization, we assess our overall results on a quarterly basis. We also check in weekly or monthly on some of our highest priority metrics to keep tabs on progress throughout the quarter. We've recently begun having our quarterly meetings a week before the quarter closes and make educated projections on where we expect to end up by the end of the quarter. This has helped us to start the next quarter with a better sense of where to focus our attention.

Having a plan is a great first step in defining the value that your organization is committing to deliver to customers and the broader community, but implementing the plan and reporting progress is where real value is delivered.