Every great initiative faces a similar challenge: The very things that make it worthwhile also create a temptation to rush the strategies that will make it successful. Plans can become big and complex and, ultimately, overwhelming and impractical. It’s like trying to boil the ocean. You just can’t do it. And the same goes for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiatives. There’s a tremendous desire to see the big-vision outcomes, so we can rush the strategies and end up defeating our own agenda.
A good strategy begins with the right first steps, so it’s important to focus on striking the right balance between long-term vision and short-term results. Here are the guiding principles we’re using to build the strategies of our D&I initiative:
- Connect to the business strategy. D&I initiatives shouldn’t operate independently or be made in a vacuum. The best D&I strategies play a part in the overall organizational strategy.
- Present expected and tangible business results. Determine metrics during the planning stage so it’s clear which initiatives are successful.
- Be customized to YOUR organizational needs. Best practices are helpful, but D&I initiatives can fall short when you simply carbon copy others. Your organization is unique, and your D&I strategy should be, too.
- Be executable within your organization. It’s important to present a compelling vision, but your objectives should be attainable within your organization’s capabilities.
While guiding principles are helpful, we’re also getting down to brass tacks. So, we discussed what should go in the strategy document. While this should be tailored to each organization, your strategic plan should:
- Effectively communicate the strategic plan to key stakeholders to gain their buy-in.
- Feature an overall objective and/or compelling vision.
- Identify target audiences that will be involved in or impacted by the implementation of the plan.
- Present the Who, What, Why, Where, and How elements of the plan (i.e., the more tactical components).
- Determine the measures that can be tracked to capture results.
The thing to remember with all of these guidelines is to keep it simple, especially in the beginning. Allow yourself, your team and the initiative a chance for some easy wins, and then allow the initiative to grow at a pace that fits your organization. That’s how you avoid trying to boil the ocean and that’s how you begin realizing real business results.
Unplug and join the conversation. What are the first 3 steps you will take to ensure “wins”?