When I think of disguises the first thing that comes to mind is the ending of every episode of Scooby Doo when they finally catch the “ghost” only to find out it was the owner of the abandoned amusement park all along. For the first 28 minutes, you’re led to believe that ghosts are real, because you saw something that looked and acted like a ghost… right up until the big reveal during the last two minutes.
The same can be said for many of the strategic plans I encounter on a regular basis.
When a client signs up with AchieveIt, one of the first things we do is begin to discuss their strategic plan. We talk about the format, the scope, the history and a variety of important facts about the plan itself. When I hear our clients talk about their strategic plan I say to myself, “Yep, that sounds like a pretty standard plan.” However, once I get my hands on the documentation, I sometimes have my own personal Scooby Doo moment and realize that the strategic plan was an operating plan in disguise.
Let’s take a step back to define the terms we’re using to ensure we’re on the same page. A strategic plan is developed to help the organization achieve its long-term vision. Conversely, operating plans involve the process of deciding what needs to be done to achieve the tactical objectives of the business.
Operational planning is done to support strategic planning efforts. They’re the action plans, so in a perfect world the strategic plan comes first, quickly followed by a robust and measurable operating plan. Operating plans should help you run the day-to-day activities in the company as efficiently as possible.
To be clear: this post is not about choosing between an operating plan or a strategic plan because you need both to be successful. My colleague Jonathan Morgan touched on this topic in one of his recent blog posts. What you don’t want is one huge document that blurs the lines between the two very different plans, which results in mediocre performance for both.
You’re probably thinking about your plan right now and wondering if it’s blurring the lines between being strategic or operational. Here are a couple ways to spot the items that need to be moved out of your strategic plan and into a more focused operational plan.
Friends don’t let their friend’s strategic plan become an operating plan in disguise. Your homework assignment is to go and review your strategic planning documents. If you encounter any of the symptoms I’ve outlined above, please let us know and we’d be happy to help. To learn more about how AchieveIt can help you accomplish both your strategic and operational goals, click here.