Creating lofty action plans seems to be the rule of many strategic planning sessions these days. Most participants truly intend to fulfill their obligations during the planning session – but following the session is another matter entirely! Day-to-day operations, putting out fires, organizational and competitive pressures, and shareholder requirements overtly and covertly stop us from even initiating our action plan.
So the question remains; ‘how do we proactively ensure that these pressures are taken into consideration?’ As well, ‘How do we create prescriptions for action planning that make sense and have a better likelihood of being achieved?’ The answer is troubleshooting and this can easily be done before the planning session ends.
The Action Plan Troubleshooting Process
Following the action planning process, have your group identify all of the things that could get in the way of successful plan implementation. Create anticipatory strategies or contingency plans to deal with each potential barrier.
Use the following questions to help identify trouble spots:
Document responses using the following flipchart format:
|Action||Possible Barriers||Potential Solutions|
After documenting possible barriers, have the group brainstorm potential solutions to eliminate the barrier(s). Results from this discussion typically lead to modification of the original actions. Areas often modified include:
Some solutions will not necessarily result in planning modifications, but will rather be ‘contingencies’ set out if the specific, original actions are unable to proceed. Document these contingencies and plan to meet again in 3-4 months to review how effective the group has been in following through on its actions. Should some actions still not be happening, plan to fall back on the contingency solutions. Should your group come up with more than one contingency, be prepared to prioritize.
Remember that troubleshooting, just like the planning process itself, always has better follow-through when participants feel a part of the process and see themselves reflected in the outcome
Do you have a unique meeting challenge not covered by one of our blog posts? We’re always looking for different dilemmas to discuss in our articles!