Perhaps your city has a strategic plan, but no one has ever worked to implement it. Dust it off and use these steps to get to work.
Step 1. Explain each strategy with a who, what, why, when, and resources needed. Creating this specificity to each goal will force you to define tasks, define the rationale, describe who is responsible, determine priorities, set deadlines and determine funding or other forms of needed resources.
For an implementation worksheet, click here: Appendix F.
Step 2. Establish a priority list of what can be accomplished in year one, year two, and so on. Being realistic about what is manageable within the short-term, mid-term and long-term will enable tasks to be budgeted more effectively.
Step 3. Continue to communicate the elements of the strategic plan. Post it on the city’s website, repeat the information within newsletters or other communication tools. Make announcements at community meetings to continually keep the plan on the minds of citizens, elected leaders and staff.
Step 4. If something doesn’t take place as originally planned, stop, regroup, and look at the goal in new ways. Volunteers don’t always work out as anticipated and funds don’t always come through. Rethinking may re-energize the initiative – stay focused and be flexible in how to get to the desired result.
Step 5. Establish some way of determining progress. Have a method to regularly monitor your progress – it will help you determine when renewed focus is needed, or if additional resources need to be brought to a project. Whether it is a graph or matrix, keeping the project in front of everyone will keep it fresh. Connecting with staff or volunteers on a regular basis to monitor their progress will also keep the lines of communication open.
Step 6. As projects are underway or even near completion, be sure to say thank you. Acknowledge people for their efforts. Celebrate with them every chance you can. Even goals that don’t quite finish in the manner originally anticipated may still move the needle in a positive way for the community. Giving thanks and acknowledgment will go a long way in encouraging others to step up and participate.
Monitoring the Plan
The pieces of a comprehensive or strategic plan are dynamic and constantly moving. Be prepared to monitor your progress and make changes as needed. Monitoring the plan is a tool to help you know if you’re doing things according to the plan. This can be done on several levels:
Establish a schedule for constant review, whether it is quarterly, biannually or annually. This helps people stay connected with what is happening with the activities and to know whether the activity is completed, in process, delayed, or no longer viable. These updates allow for more efficient review and monitoring of the plan.
Plans vary in terms of time lines. They may cover several weeks, months, or even years. During this overall time span, new deadlines, new activities, and even new priorities will impact the plan, and adjustments will need to be made. Document these changes accordingly, communicate the changes, and continue to monitor progress toward completion.
Determine early on what data you wish to monitor, how often and when. Think about how the data will be used as you decide. Determine how the data will be collected, who will collect it and how it will be processed, analyzed, and communicated.