Note: This is the final installment on strategic planning - wrapping it all up in a neat little dashboard that gives you and your company a way to quickly and frequently measure how you are doing. Enjoy! (If you missed the first 3 installments, please go to my website; www.stevemarshallassociates.com; and in the title bar, choose "Steve's Blog.")
In 1998, Paramount Pictures released a wonderful little gem of a movie, titled, "A Simple Plan" starring Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda. The plot is simple, too; three men find a downed airplane in the woods in the middle of the Minnesota winter and there is $4 million in cash inside. Then, it gets complicated, and the three men become trapped in a horror story of greed, guilt, and murder. But, it started out so simple!
They intended for it to be a simple plan to hide the money, wait until spring and divide it among themselves. (That sounds like a great, simple plan!) Then they made it complicated, as other people got involved and morals slipped. What they forgot to do was to look back at the original plan throughout the winter and see what progress they were making toward their goal of waiting until spring and then dividing the money. Fail!
Fortunately, for us mere mortals, the lessons learned from this film are germane and not as fatal as they were for those folks. Once we create our simple plan, we need a way to measure progress as we move toward our temporal goals. Enter the strategic dashboard.
Once we have established our thematic goal (Growth with Joy) and our defining objectives (the 7 starred items above), standard operating objectives, desired outcomes, milestones, and when and whom does what, we can roll all of these into a table that looks like the above. This simple little tool becomes the sole agenda item once a quarter when the various leadership groups in a company or organization get together to track progress toward the annual goals of the enterprise.
If skillfully created and assembled, the above PowerPoint table can be updated just before quarterly gatherings in about an hour and, voila, you have a dynamic and useful strategic planning tool. There are supporting documents that are part of the above roll-up, that, when updated, will also impact the final results for the above table. The beauty of this tool is that it can be used strategically, for a Board, to look just at the big picture, or, at the operational level, the supporting documents will allow your team to dive deep into the weeds.
As for the "Simple Plan" ending (SPOILER ALERT!), nobody gets the money, several people are killed over the cash, and a lot of pain is endured. The simple life lesson here is the old military saying; the "KISS" principle - Keep it Simple & Straightforward. Good advice for strategic planners, too.
P.S. Thank you to my test readers on this one - Richard Reardon and Mike Ware.
Next up in the 3 part series; “What the heck is Organizational Development?"