October 2014

Julie Davis head shotsmA Strategic State of Mind

By Julie K. Davis, IABC Nashville President, 2014


By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.   — Benjamin Franklin

We’re so busy. Newsletters to be produced, graphics to be finalized, Facebook pages to be updated, emails to be sent. And how many meetings can be fit into one day? We’re busy.

And we get a lot done. All we have to do is look at the stack of stuff that has moved from the Inbox to the Sent box to feel good about how productive we are.

But what have we accomplished? How do we track where we are, and measure progress, and demonstrate success?

One can argue that the stack of stuff speaks for itself and that productivity is what leads to accomplishment and job security. But it turns out that senior management isn’t looking at your laundry list with all the neat check boxes. Turns out, senior management wants to know whether your thinking is aligned with theirs, whether your work supports the organization’s business goals, whether you are thinking strategically.

With all the tactical work that must be done each day, you may find the only way to develop a strategic plan for your communications department’s work is to lock the door and turn off the email. Actually, you’re more likely to succeed if you block out chunks of time when you and your colleagues are not nattering at each other– before or after business hours, weekends. I know. But it’s within those chunks of time that you can do your real thinking, the kind of thinking needed to make a strategic plan.

Developing and gaining approval for a strategic plan to guide your department’s work accomplishes several things. Of course, it provides a roadmap for where the department is going. That’s important because knowing where you are going alleviates anxiety among the team members and provides meaning for them. A solid strategic plan also allows you to make the highest and best use of your resources to help your organization be successful in the marketplace and in the eyes of its employees. And such a plan, developed and socialized properly, allows your senior management the opportunity to provide guidance at a high level from their perspective to ensure that your team is focused on what really matters. That’s where true accomplishment happens.

Creating and gaining support for a strategic plan is hard work. It takes time, it requires a different kind of thinking than that needed to execute on a daily basis, and it requires cross-functional collaboration. But the rewards, including the peace of mind from knowing that you are on the right track with a realistic plan and the right support, is something beautiful, indeed. It’s worth a try!


Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.  — Winston Churchill



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