The Strategic Plan & Roadmap Are Done! Now What?
Part 5: Community Strategy Planning for 2023
**UPDATE, added 11/7/22**: Scroll all the way down for a link to EVERY one of the recap articles in this series.
For the final session in this series, I invited Ilker Akansel, Founder & Community Strategist of IlkerAkansel.com, to join and speak on what happens AFTER you’ve completed the strategic plan and roadmap for the next year. Because, guess what…you’re not done yet!
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The conversation below is a mix of quotes and paraphrases from today’s session.
Jenny: Let’s assume that all work is done to complete the Strategic Plan and Roadmap for the next year…now what? What does a community professional need to do to get things in motion?
Ilker: It comes down to 3 focuses: Contingency, Assumption, and Simplicity.
Planning for contingency - which we’re never good at - needs to be built in the plan itself. Radar must be on at all times, since you never know what may happen in the year! Such as…
Changes in external circumstances i.e.
Loss of confidence in markets, downturns, crises, pandemic, wars…
Changes in internal circumstances i.e.
Leadership changes = buy-in changes
Changes in the position of community within the organization or in relation to the product or service
Getting things in motion
Community is an organization-wide effort, something you can’t silo.
How to get other stakeholders by your side? Make sure the strategic goals serve theirs - a la Project Management Institute (PMI )stakeholder management principles.
Don’t bury your head in the sand and assume that other people will support the community efforts automatically.
The key word here is Empathy. What does that mean?
A community strategic plan must serve the community and the sponsoring organization’s value equally and firstly.
Then, it should serve, or be in tandem with, the goals, aspirations and plans of all stakeholders concerned. (Hence the phrase “stakeholder management” by PMI.)
Why not organize a “stakeholder map” for yourself, where you list all stakeholders and what they would like to see and get out of the community’s energy and involvement in the proceedings.
Execution is a tailor-made process; don’t assume that the methods and ways that made one project succeed are going to be right for the other; start afresh every time.
Your job is to get the moving parts, well, moving and get obstacles out of their way, and get all the resources ready BEFORE a stakeholder needs them. Think of Olympic Curling - you’re the sweeper! - or Toyota’s Just in Time approach.
Keep things simple…in plan, in action & in reporting.
Absolutely love gov.uk and NHS content guidelines, as outlined by Plain English http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/
http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/files/reportsguide.pdf is the report writing link
Health & Safety in the UK was an important thing and the guidelines were written to make sure that everyone - also anyone that is outside the team - understands what they’re about. Same should apply for project and community documentation.
Community strategy and action items should not only be a team or internal document - should be clear and accessible for everyone.
Same goes for project communication & reporting - referring to PMI communication management.
Jenny: What happens if the suggestions from Question 1 are NOT done?
Ilker: Well, there could be lots of tears really. As my late father used to say, “failing to prepare is to preparing to fail.” The contingency planning may be the hardest part, because people know what to do, and so they get confident in the structures and processes. This is what “experience” brings into the game. Aim for that confidence by planning for contingencies well even if you don’t have the experience. Ask fellow professionals or bring consultants in when necessary - that’s the value we provide because, frankly, we’ve seen a lot!
Jenny: What is the most important thing for a community professional to remember at this stage of their planning efforts?
Ilker: 90% of what a project manager does is communication, and about 99% of what we do as community professionals is exactly that. You must be:
Aware of how the ‘moving parts’ are moving about in your community - plan and the community itself - at all times. You’re the ‘air boss’ of an aircraft carrier - it’s your deck and so you must be able to take and describe a snapshot of your community any time!
It takes a team of people and a collection of stakeholders to move the community mountain. There’s no way you can do it alone, so you’ve got to learn how to motivate and move stakeholders in the right direction. No avoidance, no insecurity, no procrastination, no assumption. Get that art mastered, put your foot down when appropriate!
Jenny: Ilker, you’re my final guest in this series! Any other tips about strategic planning, in general, that you want to leave with our audience?
Ilker: Every bump on the road is an opportunity to learn - as per Tom Skerritt’s character on the original 1986 Top Gun ‘A good pilot is compelled to evaluate what's happened, so he can apply what he's learned.’
Be thorough - as Abraham Lincoln apparently once said, “if you give me six hours to chop down a tree I’d spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
A good strategic plan - executed - is the one that is one step ahead of everyone and little is left for surprise. Even if there are, those are handled with a speedy change management system. Imagine how your kudos would be if, like pilots, you knew what you were doing - or need to do - at all times, or appear so even if you don’t.
Many thanks to Ilker for being on the show today! You can connect with him in a few places:
And many thanks to everyone who tuned in to one, or many, of the LinkedIn Audio sessions! Do you want more of these?
Happy Halloween, and most important of all…Happy Planning for 2023!
Session #1 Recap: The Planning Before The Planning, with Steph Bennett
Session #2 Recap: Setting Goals & How They’ll Be Measured, with Todd Nilson
Session #3 Recap: How to Plan for Programming, with Ashleigh Brookshaw
Session #4 Recap: Understanding Roadmapping in the Planning Process, with Tiffany Oda