Basics of Action Planning (as part of strategic planning)

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Adapted from the Field Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation.

The reader might best be served to first read the information in the topic Strategic Planning.

Sections of This Topic Include

One of Biggest Problems in Strategic Planning: Plan Isn't Implemented
Developing Action Plans (or Work Plans)
Developing Objectives and Timelines

Also see
Related Library Topics

Also See the Library's Blogs Related to Evaluating the Strategic Plan

In addition to the information on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to Evaluating the Strategic Plan. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog.

Library's Business Planning Blog
Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Project Management Blog
Library's Strategic Planning Blog


(At this point in the strategic planning process, planners have usually already completed all or most of the strategic analysis, including the environmental scan, SWOT analysis, identifying strategic issues and goals. They've probably already developed/updated the mission statement (and a vision statement and values statement, if they choose to add these).

Action planning typically includes deciding who is going to do what and by when and in what order for the organization to reach its strategic goals. The design and implementation of the action planning depend on the nature and needs of the organization.

One of Biggest Problems in Strategic Planning: Plan Isn't Implemented

At this point in planning, planners are sometimes fatigued from completing the earlier phases of planning. Action planning may seem detailed and tedious compared to earlier phases of strategic planning which often seem creative in nature. Therefore, action planning is too often ignored, leaving the results of earlier stages of planning much as “castles in the air” -- useless philosophical statements with no grounding in the day-to-day realities of the organization. Meaningful stages of earlier planning become utterly useless.

The organization's commitment to strategic planning is commensurate to the extent that a) the organization completes action plans to reach each strategic goal and b) includes numerous methods for verifying and evaluating the actual extent of implementation of the action plan.

Developing Action Plans (or Work Plans)

1. Actions plans specify the actions needed to address each of the top organizational issues and to reach each of the associated goals, who will complete each action and according to what timeline.

2. Develop an overall, top-level action plan that depicts how each strategic goal will be reached.

3. Develop an action plan for each major function in the organization, e.g., marketing, development, finance, personnel, and for each program/service, etc. These plans, in total, should depict how the overall action plan will be implemented. In each action plan, specify the relationship of the action plan to the organization's overall, top-level action plan.

4. Ensure each manager (and, ideally each employee) has an action plan that contributes to the overall. These plans, in total, should depict how the action plans of the major functions will be implemented. Again, specify the relationship of these action plan to the organization's overall, top-level action plan.

5. The format of the action plan depends on the nature and needs of the organization. The plan for the organization, each major function, each manager and each employee, might specify:
a) The goal(s) that are to be accomplished
b) How each goal contributes to the organization's overall strategic goals
c) What specific results (or objectives) much be accomplished that, in total, reach the goal of the organization
d) How those results will be achieved
e) When the results will be achieved (or timelines for each objective)

Developing Objectives and Timelines

1. Objectives are specific, measurable results produced while implementing strategies.

2. While identifying objectives, keep asking “Are you sure you can do this?”

3. Integrate the current year’s objectives as performance criteria in each “implementer’s” job description and performance review.

4. Remember that objectives and their timelines are only guidelines, not rules set in stone. They can be deviated from, but deviations should be understood and explained.

5. Consider the following example format for action your plan.

Strategic Goal

Strategy

Objective

Responsibility

Timeline

1. (Goal #1) 1.1 (first strategy to reach Goal #1) 1.1.1 (first objective to reach while implementing Strategy #1.1) (who’s going to accomplish that objective) (when the implementer is going to be accomplish that objective)

Return to the topic Strategic Planning.


Submit a link


For the Category of Strategic Planning:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books

For-Profit Specific

Nonprofit Specific



For-Profit Specific

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Nonprofit-Specific

Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation - Book Cover Field Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Step-by-step guidelines to customize and facilitate planners to implement the best strategic planning process to suit the particular nature and needs of their nonprofit. This is one of the few books, if any, that explains how to actually facilitate planning. Includes many online forms that can be downloaded and used by planners. Many materials in this Library's topic about strategic planning are adapted from this book.

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Also See for For-Profits

Business Planning -- Recommended Books

Business Development -- Recommended books

Financing Your Business -- Recommended Books

Organizational Sustainability -- Recommended Books

Product Development -- Recommended books

Planning and Project Management -- Recommended Books

Also See for Nonprofits

Business Planning (nonprofit) -- Recommended Books

Social Entrepreneurship (Nonprofit) -- Recommended Books

Capacity Building (Nonprofit) -- Recommended Books

Organizational Sustainability -- Recommended Books

Fundraising -- Recommended Books

Program Management -- Recommended Books

Planning and Project Management -- Recommended Books




Find a Topic