Avoiding SPOTS

(Strategic Plans on the Shelf)

Whatever the Cost

Most of us have had the fortune - or some might say, misfortune - of participating in a strategic plan at some part or another. I, for one, am sick of retreats that result in a report that no one reads, or much less, acts upon. That’s when spots start popping out. SPOTS (strategic plans on the shelf) gather dust and do not advance the mission of an organization. SPOTS occur when the “strategic plan” box was checked to meet a requirement, and life could go on. 

So, what good is a strategic plan? Strategic plans need to address the why, how and what of an organization. They create a roadmap designed to create and sustain your organization’s competitive advantage, to carry out your mission, and to realize your desired future. And, in my opinion, a well-executed strategic plan is not possible in a single day. Ever.


 So where do you start? Phase one of a plan generally involves revisiting mission, conducting both an internal and market analysis, and solidifying your strategic advantage. 

After the “why” becomes clear, organizations, can then dive into the how by designing vision elements, honestly discussing blocks and barriers, and determining strategic actions that will be crucial moving forward. 

Finally, the what occurs.  This phase, which is the most often overlooked portion, clearly lays out how the plan will be implemented with names, activities and success metrics assigned to each strategy. 

Successfully develop all three components, and you will avoid producing a SPOT. Rather, you will have produced a living document that is updated regularly, one that can evolve and grow with your organization. A document that will hold you and your organization accountable for actions and success. And, then my friend, the outcomes you discussed and dreamed about in one of those all-day retreats will become reality.