A communication plan is critical to the implementation of a strategic plan, regardless of the size of the organization, its geography or industry. For strategic plans to be effectively implemented, they rely upon the input and commitment of a wide range of individuals who need to be involved and informed in the process from its earliest stages to the generation of results.
The importance of communication sometimes is overlooked or underestimated during the creation and implementation of a strategic plan. While those involved in the planning effort may be well aware of what is going on, those outside the team are often uninformed and uninvolved. Effective communication ensures that all members of the organization are aware of the plan, its importance and how they might be impacted. After all, to achieve success, strategic plans rely on the activities of many people in the organization -- not just the planning team.
One of the important steps in a strategic planning process is a SWOT -- strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats -- analysis. This analysis should include input from a broad array of individuals, both inside and outside the organization, to avoid blind spots. Communication with employees, vendors, customers, community members and other key constituencies, and the active solicitation of their input and feedback, ensures that the plan considers a wide range of impacts that will affect the organization both positively and negatively.
A small group of people working independently may well make assumptions that do not reflect the reality of people on the front lines. Communication can help to test assumptions as the plan is developed. For instance, the SWOT analysis could be shared with the organization so its members can weigh in on whether the right items have been included. As strategies are developed, input can help to determine whether they are appropriate and clearly aligned with the established objectives.
Often companies struggle with the implementation of their strategic plans. Continuing to communicate with multiple constituencies as the plan is implemented, to share updates on progress, roadblocks and changes to the plan, helps to keep the plan alive. As individuals are assigned responsibility for achieving certain plan objectives, they should also be required to report on their progress on a regular basis. By effectively keeping a wide range of people in the loop during the development and implementation of a strategic plan, companies ensure their success.