A successful strategic plan depends, on large measure, on successful implementation. Central to plan implementation is a multi-dimensional communication strategy.
A number of years ago, C. Davis Fogg wrote an exceptional book—Implementing Your Strategic Plan: How to Turn Intent into Effective Action for Sustainable Change. He noted that communication to support the implementation of the plan should have a number of basic goals:
- Build and maintain a sense of high urgency. Keep up the pressure at all levels, constantly reminding people where you expect them to be next month, next quarter, next year; what will happen if they don’t meet objectives and what the benefits will be if they do. Without urgency, there will be no change.
- Show your enthusiasm for the plan. The SLT’s enthusiastic endorsement of the plan inspires people to get on board.
- Sell the benefits. Clearly show how the plan will benefit the rank and file.
- Communicate at the point of believable action. Although top leadership (both administrative and faculty) give the overall framework of the plan, departments are the real hubs of communication. Faculty, staff, and administrators take their cues from what they hear, face to face, from people they trust. If you’ve picked carefully, you have such people in leadership positions. It’s their job to translate the big picture and objectives into action at the departmental level, where most of your monetary, physical, and human assets are concentrated.
- Communicate in a framework employees understand. Employ words, logic, and concepts that stakeholders can use to figure out what they can do to turn the situation to their advantage. This means focusing on how jobs will change, the learning required, job security, empowerment, cross-training, and financial benefits.
- Maintain a constant two-way information exchange. Information must flow between top management and those executing critical programs and objectives such as priority issue action-planning teams and leverage managers.
- Widely and frequently praise significant accomplishments and those responsible for them. Give credit generously and often.
- Own up to your failures and focus on lessons learned. You will gain credibility by being honest when you stumble, and you’ll get better results next time.