Strategic plans limit choices of action to that path that the planner foresaw when the plan was made. Some are more flexible than others. If they’re not flexible, they’re doomed to be SPOTS (Strategic Plan On The Shelf).
How flexible is yours? These 3 questions will tell you.
- What metrics tell you if you’re heading for the results you want?
- What assumptions are the foundation of your plan – and how do you know if they’re still true?
- What contingencies are built into the plan?
Metrics tell you whether your plan’s working. The best ones provide a “dashboard” of key indicators that are sensitive and future-focused.
Assumptions list out the environmental factors – stable or changing in some predicted direction – that are necessary for the plan to keep making sense. Thinking them through, writing them down, and checking them periodically keeps the foundation of the plan rooted in reality.
Contingencies are a series of “what if” scenarios about the assumptions changing or the metrics going badly. They include at least the early steps of diagnosis and a direction for recovery.
A problem you anticipate can be halfway solved – which is what flexibility in strategy provides.