Strategic Community Management

Get Approval For Your Strategy

A key feature of a successful strategy is that it is signed off by relevant stakeholders within the organization. This will often just be your boss. Sometimes, it might be a broader group of stakeholders.

The most common mistake here is to present stakeholders with a comprehensive strategic plan to sign off instead of a strategy. There are some clear challenges with this:

  1. The bigger the plan the longer it will take for stakeholders to read. Every additional page reduces the number of people who will read it. Your entire community project might be slowed down not because the strategic plan is good or bad, but simply because it’s long.
  2. If you present an entire strategic plan to stakeholders, stakeholders will often comb through and pick apart every detail. This takes a lot of time and is not likely to lead to the best outcome. This happens partly through an idealized sense of self-importance and partly through the transferral of responsibility. If they approve a strategy and you fail to implement it, it’s your fault. If they approve an entire strategic plan and it doesn’t work out, it’s their fault.

Key Lesson

Solicit Input

One of the best methods to gain approval on any strategy is to solicit input in the strategy. Seeking opinions on the community and engaging people in its creation is far more likely to get your strategy approved.

The key lesson here is you don’t need stakeholders to approve your strategic plan. You need stakeholders to approve your strategy in order to achieve the goals they have set you. This means presenting the objectives and your broad approach to get there. For example, you might explain you plan to increase customer satisfaction by getting members’ questions answered quicker. You will achieve that by making a top group of experts answer more questions. This means making them feel like a unique, superior group of insiders. And this is where you should stop.

If you start talking about the tactics (e.g. meeting with the CEO, showing them a roadmap) they will begin to push back for a variety of reasons. Present the strategy, get agreement on the strategy, and stop for now. This can often work better in some organizations than others which require a comprehensive strategic plan to approve. In this situation solicit as many opinions in developing the plan as you can. If everyone feels like a co-creator, they are less likely to reject it.

At the very least, your boss will need you to approve your strategy. This is because you will frequently need your boss to help you accomplish the key goal of creating your strategy: resource allocation.

Summary

  1. The longer a strategy is, the longer it will take stakeholders to approve it.
  2. If you ask stakeholders to approve an entire strategic plan, expect them to pick apart every detail.
  3. Ask stakeholders to approve a strategy, not a strategic plan.
  4. Explain why this is the strategy and the implications of this strategy.
  5. Solicit engagement in the creation of the strategy to gain buy-in.

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