Previously, we covered the first three principles required for effectively formatting, creating, writing, and managing Strategic Imperatives. Our list of principles continues below:
4. Strategic Imperatives should be inspirational
Setting up strategic imperatives are one of the first steps of using the strategy of an organization to drive action, and as such, they should be inspiring. Inspiration needs to be grounded in reality, avoid vagueness and feel good statements. To achieve this without speaking in platitudes, ensure each strategic imperative:
- Is as specific as reasonable, given that it is strategic
- Will be a stretch to accomplish without being so far out that it creates a sense of hopelessness
- Is well written and presented in clear, concise language, without sounding like marketing
- Is backed up with the underlying context and assumptions that were used to create them
5. Strategic Imperatives must be Imperative
This may go without saying, but do not allow items to creep into your list of Strategic Imperatives because it seems like the right thing to do.
Articulating even one Strategic Imperative that isn’t really imperative will weaken the whole set, and will sully the process. This is especially true if staff perceive that a Strategic Imperative has been included for political reasons, or that it’s just “lip service”. The first time staff and managers are introduced to the set of Strategic Imperatives, you want them to say “wow, those really are the most important things we need to accomplish, and I want to make my contribution.”
The best example I can give for this comes from my own experience helping clients articulate their Strategic Imperatives. In all the Strategic Imperative sessions I have done, almost without fail, the last Strategic Imperative on the list is titled “Human Resource Strategy” or “Develop the Best People”, or “Training and Development”, or sometimes just “People”. Now these are all great things, but are they imperative? Are they operational, or is it actually imperative that the organization puts a special time constrained emphasis on the development of its people right now?