The One-Page Strategic Plan

I’ve read that somewhere close to 80 percent of strategic plans are never implemented. Or at a minimum, they are not fully implemented.


Because they’re usually dozens of pages long, clipped inside a binder, sitting on the bookshelf behind senior management’s desks.

If you can’t simply represent and communicate your strategic plan on one page, you don’t have a plan worth following. Go back and define it further, simplify it, clarify it, dig into it, and figure out what you really want to focus on.

I recently worked with an organization that spent a day in an executive retreat talking about and working on their strategic plan for the following year and beyond. At the end of the day I’m pretty sure there weren’t many who could have communicated what the real focus was, what the challenges and goals were, and what really needed to be done over the following 12 months.

A week later, I spent four hours on a flight across the country thinking about and writing out what had been discussed and by the time the plane was landing, I had written close to eight pages.

Over the next few days I thought a lot about what I’d written, then sat in front of the flip chart in my office and started making notes. Within an hour, I had created a picture in my mind of what this organization had to do to be successful – its goals. It then was clear to me that they needed just three strategies that would lead to achieving these goals. And from there, it was obvious what tactics were required. Well, mostly obvious. It did take a couple of conversations with others to ensure we had them all. But in the end what we had was a strategic plan – the goals, strategies and tactics – all on one page. At the top of the page we added what the real purpose of the organization is – the mission or “Why Statement” – as that cannot be over-communicated. It wasn’t quite a flow chart, but it did flow downward, was simple to understand, and was very clear.

One page. The mission, goals, strategies and tactics were there for all to see – and work on. It was something that people could post on a wall next to their desks and refer to all the time – not just management, but every employee. When a decision needed to be made, one could look at the One-Pager and see if it fit; whether it fit or not, the decision was easy to make. And everyone knew what needed to be done – they knew what the critical few things that would lead to the organization’s success were.

Do you have a one-page strategic plan?

Ultimately, I think the most valuable part of the one-page strategy document is the thought that goes into it. If you can define and refine your mission, goals, strategy and tactics to the point where they fit on one page, you’ve probably thought enough about your business to make it even more successful than it is now.

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