Sticking To vs. Adapting the Plan

A common concern when presenting the concept of an in-system strategic plan is, how do we stick to the plan when the system is so flexible? Valid concern. A primary function of a good strategic plan is to provide guidance over time in a constantly changing environment. Therefore, if the plan can change as well, how do we maintain it’s integrity?

As usual, the problems and solutions are more about structure and process than the tools used.

When to Adapt

A good strategic plan (static document or in-system) should describe what elements are fixed and what elements are potentially adaptable. For example, a project could be absolutely required or, if the result could be obtained in a number of ways, it could be listed as the best option at the time but open for discussion later.

During periodic review of the plan, identify what should remain in place and what could be adapted. Identify triggers for this kind of review such as new research data, completion of a key project, or change in the competitive landscape. The existing plan may be weighted higher than a potential change, it would win a 50/50 coin toss, but don’t let the existing plan take precedence when the impact is clearly 70/30.

How to Adapt

The decision to adapt the plan has to be agreed on by the same representatives that made it. Once agreement has been reached, carefully review initial assumptions and document impacts the change may have to other components.

How to Document the Change

When the analysis is complete, save a snapshot and then make the required changes. Making the changes and communicating them from within the workspace is much more efficient than updating a document and then making the changes elsewhere.

Johnathan Deckert