Jipe Kelly, Co-founder & Consultant at AfriDev Exchange
Strategic plan once is finalised, must be implemented. This is done by linking the strategic plan to the organization's work & operational plan and to the work plan of teams and individuals. Based on my experience on strategy development for non-profit organizations, there are four key areas that lead to execution success.
1. Focus on the few:
(a). Select a few - 8-10 key strategic objectives to accomplish in the next 12 - 18 months. No more than
10! Don't fall into the trap of "We have to do this!" and end up with 12 to 15. It is better to work on a
few rather than work on everything and get nothing completed. Four to six is even better, especially if
the objectives are large.
(b) Once you have selected the key objectives, then develop action plans that are detailed road-maps of
how you will accomplish these objectives, decide on:
What are the action steps (granular detail)?
Who is involved with/responsibility for each step?
How much time will each step take?
How much money will each step cost?
(c) Ensure that all staff and volunteers use the plan as the basis for their own work plan
(d) Use the plan to focus and prioritise when good ideas or urgent opportunities arise as they inevitably will
(e) Ensure policies and procedures exist which support the implementation of the plan
2.Balance your resources:
(a) Now you know the amount of time and money for each objective, do you have enough resources? Do
you have the right resources?. Often the required financial resources are clarified in the budgeting
process. The human resource aspect is often lightly considered (if at all) and this is where many
implementation plans go off-track.
(b) Understand that your people have day-to-day activities that help the organization to run in addition to
the projects that the organization is currently implementing to address the social goals the
organization is set to address; you have to balance these requirements so that both are
(c) If you find that you do not have the resources to accomplish your action plans, evaluate how you can
Delegate (both routine as well as project activities); Eliminate (routine and/or project); Reduce (routine
and/or project); Postpone (project only - you can't postpone routine activities; they just don't happen)
3.Monitor your progress:
(a). Monthly - have your action plan team leaders report on their progress to the strategic planning team
(b) Work with the team to relieve bottlenecks if projects are behind - The strategic planning team should
be able to help reduce bottlenecks - use this meeting as a solution-finding meeting rather than a way
to assess blame. The team should be working together to move things forward.
(C) If new projects come up, then evaluate each project in the context of what has already been
selected. If the new project is more important than one of the current key objectives, then add it, but
be sure to take one away.
(d) Do not pile objectives on top of one another - sometimes we assume that we have hatched new
resources during the year.
(e) Do not evaluate new projects in isolation - evaluate them in the context of the projects that are
already on your plate. If the current projects need to stay on the list, save the new one for next
period’s strategic planning.
(f) Set aside annual review sessions and if possible, outsource an external professional person to
facilitate the session.
4.Communicate early and often:
(a). Communicate the strategy and key objectives frequently to all staff and volunteers and update when
(b) Ensure that the plan is discussed regularly at meetings (you could consider making it a standing
(c) Make sure that communication is clear and concise - you could consider presenting key areas on
powerpoint and providing time for interactive discussion.
(d) Make sure the communication is two-way (see article: Lessons Learned in Aligning an Organization -
Two Way Communication is Key)
(e) Have head of each department prepares what their department is going to do in support of the
strategy and key objects.
(f) Make sure new people (committee members, Board, staff etc.) receive a copy of the plan
(g) Highlight success both internally and externally when milestones in the plan have been reached
Successful strategic execution is paramount to creating greater impact on your social goals and sustaining your organization. If you accomplish these four steps you should achieve over 90% of your objectives within the timeframe selected. If you need help on putting in place structures or facilitating these processes, do not hesitate to contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org