Few plans are implemented as intended. That’s one of the reasons that people lose faith in planning. They expect their plans to be implemented exactly as described in the plan. One of the unfortunate aspects of this situation is that many consultants assert that “planning doesn’t work.” It does work when it’s done well.
During Planning, Clarify How to Change the Plan Later On
When doing the planning (when identifying goals and other priorities to address and how to address them), also talk about how to change your plan as it’s being implemented in the future.
A good approach is to require that any changes be approved by the Board if the changes might be to the overall mission, vision, values and top-level goals, but not to the action plans. (Action plans usually are about how each goal is to be achieved.)
Include a Date on the First Version of the Plan
When the Plan is approved by the Board, be sure the cover of the Plan includes the date of approval. Include that date on each page of the Plan.
Include a Revision Page Near the Front of the Plan
On that page, list the original date of approval of the first version of the Plan. Then for each approved change, on the Revision Page, list the date of approval of the change, and the pages that were changed and how.
Update the Revision Date On Each Page of the Plan Document
For example, on each page, put the last date of approval of the last change to the content on that page.
If Frequent Changes Are Made, Produce a New Version of Plan
If changes are made, for example, more than once a quarter, then produce a new Plan document that includes all the approved changes, and on the cover of the Plan include a new date. On its Revision Page, explain that a new version was produced and reference the previous versions.
If Changes Require Board Approval, Re-Issue to Stakeholders?
If changes were to top-level, strategic matters (mission, vision, values and goals), and you had issued copies of the Plan to various stakeholders, then consider issuing a new version to them as well, along with descriptions of why you produced the new version.
A plan should be a set of guidelines to follow during the year. The Plan should not be considered as a law or regulation.
What do you think?