Gordon Sheppard - Business Expert Solutions - Training and Workshops

How Leaders Can Build An Effective Organization Plan In 7 Steps

Senior Leaders are responsible for the success of their entire organization.

While they are often highly skilled in key areas, they also must have a full understanding of how every part of their organization works.

Which means that CEOs, Executive Directors, VPs and Senior Managers must have a profitable method to address all major areas to move their organizations forward.

Your Strategic Plan Needs Help

Strategic plans are essential.

I should know, because I work as a Leadership Coach, Facilitator and Organization Development Consultant who facilitates strategic planning sessions, after which the senior leaders end up with a robust strategic plan that includes a clear vision, values, goals and objectives.

But then what happens?

Nothing.

The strategic planning effort uses up the limited time and energy of the senior leaders, and because they don’t have a consistent way to follow up the plan ends up on a shelf collecting dust.

Hopes and dreams… without execution.

That’s why I believe that you need an Organization Plan.

Organization Plan Definition

An Organization Plan highly detailed approach that enables senior leaders to optimize every area of their organization.

An Organization Plan should include 5 major components:

  • Strategic Plan: A road map that explains the big picture that the organization wants to achieve
  • Work Plan: A practical way to execute the Strategic Plan
  • People Plan: A detailed approach to getting the most out of your people
  • Operations Plan: A detailed approach to getting the most out of all processes
  • Results: A way to measure whether or not the organization is succeeding

When senior leaders invest in building a detailed Organization Plan they become aware of key areas they hadn’t considered, which then allows them to prioritize the most important issues and take action to improve the organization in the most efficient way possible.

For example, your CEO might be really strong in their technical area of engineering, but they may not know anything about sales and marketing. By going through the organization planning process they will gain enough knowledge about sales and marketing to support this area to the appropriate level.

Another benefit of having senior leaders build an Organization Plan is continuous improvement. Because the plan becomes a living document that they can visit on a monthly basis, which will give them a chance to improve areas that otherwise might have taken a year or more to get to.

The 'How To Build An Effective Organization Plan' Workshop

If you are a senior leader who wants to rapidly learn how to build and organization plan, then this workshop is for you!

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How Leaders Can Build An Effective Organization Plan In 7 Steps

Here are 7 steps to help leaders build an effective Organization Plan.

  1. Introduction To Organization Planning
  2. Analyzing External and Internal Needs
  3. Strategic Planning
  4. Work Plan Development
  5. Optimizing Organization Structure and People
  6. Operational Understanding And Improvement
  7. Measuring Results and Continuous Improvement

These are the same steps that I teach to leaders in the How To Build An Effective Organization Plan Workshop.

Not only does this workshop offer rapid insights and a strategic high-level approach, but each participant also receives a copy of the Organization Plan Template, which they can use to build their own plan.

The Organization Plan Template

The Organization Plan Template is an 80+ page document that includes valuable prompts and questions to inspire senior leaders to build their own Organization Plan.

How To Build An Effective Organization Plan - By Gord Sheppard - Business Expert Solutions

Here is a copy of the 1-Page Executive Dashboard that is included in the plan, which reflects the high level of detail that is covered.

Organization Plan Dashboard - By Business Expert Solutions - Gord Sheppard

The Organization Plan Template Download

If you would like to get a copy of the Organization Plan Template, then click here to fill in the contact form.

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Step 1: Why Do Organization Planning

The first question that senior leaders need to answer is “Why should I build an Organization Plan?”

To begin to answer this, let me share a story.

In my work as an Organization Development Consultant I have seen too many leaders who were focussed on a single area of their business, while they ignored other aspects at their own peril.

One leadership team that I worked with had a really good handle on bidding jobs and winning contracts. But they didn’t know how to manage themselves or their contractors. This often led to fights between senior leaders in the office, or contractors doing unacceptable things on the actual job sites, which ultimately frustrated their clients.

By introducing this leadership team to the Organization Plan approach they were able to get a rapid overview of all aspects of the company. Then I worked with them to prioritize what was most important, which led to doing a high level examination of the company’s human resources practices.

After gaining key insights these leaders made immediate positive changes in how they acted with each other and their teams. They also discovered that they needed to do a thorough examination of the wage structure and policies for their contractors.

Armed with this new information they were able to bring in a Human Resources expert to work out the specifics and move their organization forward in this key area.

The moral of this story is that leaders need to admit that they have blind spots, and that they also need a systematic way to take care of all parts of their organization in order to maximize opportunities.

Another reason why you should invest in an Organization Plan is to create accountability at all levels of your business.

Because once leaders have the right level of knowledge then they can assign a manager to each area of the business to make sure it’s getting done properly. Leaders can also develop key metrics for each area that the managers will be accountable for.

Then, as the manager sends back progress reports the senior leaders will know if that area of the business is succeeding, and whether or not that area of the business is moving their Organization Strategy forward.

Other benefits of doing an Organization Plan include:

  • Reducing the number of surprises
  • Anticipating market trends and people issues
  • Continually improving your products and services to better serve your customers

Step 2: Analyzing External and Internal Needs

Before you start Strategic Planning, you need to analyze what is happening to your organization internally and externally.

To understand the external environment you can do a PEST analysis during which you will gather information about:

  • Political factors
  • Economic impacts
  • Social factors
  • Technological impacts

For example, if new federal legislation is being brought forward (political) that will slow down GDP growth (economic), then your employees may experience higher levels of stress because it’s more difficult to pay rent and buy groceries (social).

Once you have an understanding about outside impacts, then you can do a SWOT analysis and examine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats within your organization.

In addition to doing a PEST and SWOT, you may also want to do additional analysis to gain insights about how to improve your products and services and how you serve your customers.

Step 3: Strategic Planning

After you have a clear understanding of your current state, then you can build your strategy.

To get started, here are three key questions to answer.

  • Where are we today?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • How are we going to get there?

After you answer those questions then you’ll address the key components you’ll need to build your Strategic Plan, which include:

Vision – Where we are going

Mission – How we do what we do

Values – The way we conduct ourselves

Goals – The top 3 to 5 goals we are going to achieve this year

Objectives – The things we do to achieve our goals

Once you have completed your Strategic Plan you’ll want to communicate it to everyone.

Questions to help you build your strategic communication approach include:

  • Will you have a town hall with all employees to talk about it?
  • Will you send out a press release?
  • How often will you talk about your Strategic Plan and who will you share it with?

Now that your strategy is built it’s time to develop a practical Work Plan that will help you execute your strategy in a timely manner.

Step 4: Work Plan Development

The Work Plan is a practical tool that will bring your Strategic Plan to life.

To get started you will copy the Goals and Objectives from the Strategic Plan into the Work Plan.

Next you need to establish what tasks need to be completed in order to achieve the Objectives. Then you will assign a person to do each task, along with a completion date.

For example, if you were running a non-profit organization that does early childhood education your Strategic Plan might include this Goal and these Objectives.

Goal 1: Improve staff skills in the area of program delivery

Objective A: Find appropriate training to upskill employees

Objective B: Have senior staff coach junior staff on a regular basis

Objective C: Attend international convention to learn new ways to train staff

Now you can put the Goal/Objectives into your Work Plan which would then look like this.

Goal 1: Improve staff skills in the area of program delivery

Objectives What Who When
Objective A: Find appropriate training to upskill employees
Do research to find new training programs
Janet
June 30, 2024
Objective B: Have senior staff coach junior staff on a regular basis
Ensure that senior staff know how to coach and assign Coaches/Coachees
Bob & Barbara
Sept 30, 2024
Objective C: Attend international convention to learn new ways to train staff
Find out when/where convention is and book travel and accommodation
Dough & Selina
Oct 31, 2024

Then you can keep track of the tasks (what/who/when) on a regular basis.

As you succeed or fail with each task then you will know how far along you are towards achieving your objectives, which will indicate whether or not you’re going to achieve your strategic Goal.

In the Work Plan you will also establish regular meetings to address key areas in your organization.

For example, senior leaders should be meeting about their strategic plan for at least ½ day per month, along with doing a strategic retreat for at least 2 days per year.

In your annual calendar that would look something like this.

ANNUAL CALENDAR
JANUARY
FEBRUARY
MARCH
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
APRIL
MAY
JUNE
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
JULY
AUGUST
SEPTEMBER
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
OCTOBER
NOVEMBER
DECEMBER
2-DAY STRATEGIC PLANNING RETREAT
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive
1/2 Day Strategic Planning - Executive

Combining your Strategic Plan with a practical Work Plan is the best way that senior leaders can make their organization successful.

To support this approach, senior leaders also need to go through the next two steps and learn everything they need to know about people and operations.

Step 5: Optimizing Organization Structure And People

Every leader should understand whether or not they have the right organization structure to achieve their Goals.

To begin this process you’ll want to get a sheet of paper from the printer. Now, turn the paper sideways and draw a line down the middle. On the left side you can put the header ‘Current’ and on the right side you can put the header ‘Future’.

Then you can use a pencil to fill in your current organization structure like this.

Current

Next you can talk about the Goals from your Strategic Plan, and then you can draw what the structure of your organization should look like in 1 year.

Current 1

Now that you understand what your future structure should look like you can talk about your current workforce, along with identifying the new roles you’ll need in the future.

This step involves answering important questions like:

  • Do we have the right people in the right roles today?
  • Who should we promote? Let go? And who is retiring?
  • Who do we need to recruit to get the right people into the right roles in the future?

Of course there are many more details to consider in this step, and if you’d like help with this then get in touch with Gord Sheppard. 

Step 6 - Operational Understanding and Improvement

Beyond their core expertise, senior leaders need to have a basic understanding of all operational areas of a business which include:

  • Human Resources
  • IT
  • Administration
  • Legal
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Safety
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Asset Management
  • Policy Management
  • Facilities Management
  • Government Advocacy
  • Research and Development and more

With the right high level knowledge and trusted advice from business experts, senior leaders will be able to improve all areas of their organization.

The challenge is finding the right experts in a wide variety of areas from IT to HR, Legal to Accounting and more. With that in mind I recommend that you take your time when you are hiring experts so you end up with the right one.

Let me tell you why.

I once had a client who wanted their website to be improved. They had the same website provider for 10 years but it was always difficult getting clear answers and the time between responses from the website provider’s account representative could sometimes be 2 months or more.

While this was happening my client’s website wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do to drive her business. In addition, my client was not a website expert, and when the account representative sent a proposal that was too difficult to understand, my client was upset.

So I asked my client if I could get in direct contact with the account representative and she said yes. When I told the account representative about the main issues, they were dismissive and didn’t exhibit the level of concern that my client needed.

So we fired that website company and brought in a new provider who improved my client’s website, which contributed to new growth for her business.

The point of the story is that my client was a successful business owner who understood her craft, but she didn’t know how to find the right expert to help her with her website.

I pride myself on having a strong set of relationships with a variety of trusted business experts. So when I recommend someone, my clients know that they’re going to get first-class services.

In addition to getting the right advice, senior leaders should also think about who is accountable for each major area of operations in their business.

This will enable them to delegate effectively, and also get the right kind of feedback that will let them know if every area of operations is keeping their organization on track.

Gord Sheppard - Leadership Coach, Facilitator, Organization Consultant

The 'How To Build An Effective Organization Plan' Workshop

This workshop is for senior leaders who want to start building their own Organization Plan.

Learn More

Step 7 - Measuring Results and Continuous Improvement

One of my clients measured success by the total number of jobs per year. Others track key metrics like cashflow, profits and overall staff satisfaction.

What are the most important numbers you should be measuring in your organization?

How often are you tracking those numbers?

By establishing the right measurements you will know whether or not you are getting the right results.

You’ll also know whether you are off track, or if you should be doing more of one thing over another.

Conclusion

When you make a sincere investment in the Organization Planning process then you are putting your organization in the best position to succeed.

Because executives, owners, board members and all senior leaders know what they know, and the right Organization Plan will help them to gain insights into the other areas of the business that they have to be competent in.

Is this process easy? No.

Is it worth it? Yes.

Another benefit to building a complete Organization Plan is the fact that a good plan will outlast the people who pass through your organization. So, regardless of who is in charge, your organizational memory will stay consistent and provide continuity for all stakeholders.

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