Leaders Attend to Action Plans

Have you ever been part of a strategic planning initiative that resulted in a long document, with a 3-year timeline, and several action plans?

Many times, these action plans and initiatives involve projects that go above and beyond the day-to-day work of an organization.

And, particularly if it’s a volunteer-driven group, it’s common that as much as 80% of those plans stay on the shelf and never get put into action.

As a leader, what can you do when you realize this has happened?

Break out those abandoned plans, gather 2 other people to create a committee of 3, and put them in priority order.

Then, “triage” them – decide which are best to abandon, and which are best to renew efforts toward. It’s okay to have a “middle” pile also, of “maybes.”

I recommend picking just 1 or 2 to renew efforts on. When you’ve picked them, include action elements as a part of your regular agenda, and get them done.

Also, formalize your decision to abandon the ones you’re leaving behind; this shows the team that it’s okay to change course, and it’s better to be deliberate about it.

Going forward, what can you do to keep this kind of thing from happening?

From the beginning, make sure each action plan has an owner, and some deadlines for its tasks.

During every meeting, spend 15 seconds on each plan – just ask the owner for a one-color status update:

  • Green – it’s on track to be done by the deadline.
  • Yellow – it’s at risk of falling behind.
  • Red – it is behind.

If it’s yellow or red, ask the owner “what help do you need from anyone here?

Then, act on the answer.

Another thing you can do before embarking on a planning initiative that results in too many action plans is a “Start, Stop, Continue.” But that’s another post. 🙂

DSC_0768_2Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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