Wednesday, February 5

Laying Tracks into the Future

I’m always thrilled to learn about how well clients implement their strategic plans, and annually lay down the tracks to continue their plan into the future.  Leaders for whom I’ve facilitated strategic plans use our Center’s iterative strategic planning cycle: Define, Design, Align, and Refine.  They report that one of the most valuable qualities of this framework is that, as they “Align,” or implement, they are collecting data on performance against agreed-upon standards as well as monitoring external and internal conditions that might affect their future.  When they then “Refine” their plan into the future, they can factor in this data.
One client, ANNA, the American Nephrology Nurses Association, has modeled this process to keep their plan relevant and appropriate.  In preparation for their annual strategic planning retreat, the board recently conducted a survey of its members regarding each initiative.  They created a form completed by members that reported the extent to which they believed the organization had met its objectives for each initiative.  They also asked for comments on how it had succeeded and where it had failed on the initiative, as well as about internal and external factors that influenced the initiative or could influence it going forward.  The result is a robust document full of thoughtful observations, creative insights, and entrepreneurial suggestions for going forward.  It will provide a rich, data-driven discussion when the board meets to extend its strategic plan into the future. 
All of us can learn from the work the ANNA board did to keep its focus and resources aligned with its vision.  The Dalai Lama has often said that the happiest people are the most disciplined.  I have frequently noted that this applies to organizations as well:  The most successful are those who have the most discipline.  ANNA’s leaders had to plan ahead to gather this data before their meeting.  They had to be willing to take the time to think through each initiative and answer key questions about it.  And they had to agree to come together in a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect.  They put their own egos behind them and put the interests of their organization as their priority.  This kind of mature, disciplined leadership is bound to lead to the achievement of goals—for organizations and individuals alike.  If you want your organization (or your life) to HUM with purpose and harmony, dig deep to find the discipline to set goals, pursue them, measure progress, notice changes in your internal and external environments, then incorporate what you’ve learned as you adjust both plans and actions.   Initially, it will seem like a lot of work, but then you will reach a tipping point and feel as if you’ve suddenly arrived at a destination that felt out of reach!

Click below for a personal testimonial from Norma Gomez, President of ANNA.


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