If you decide to drive down to Ohio, what would you do? Will you just get up one fine morning, sit in the car and start driving? Or would you put thought into planning the trip? I think most of us when posed with this question will tend to pick up the second option.
When you start your plan you will spend some time pondering over which route would be the shortest way and which highway would be the fastest. You will probably have an idea in your mind as to how long you plan to stay, where to stay, where to visit, and other such things which intend to make your trip a successful one.
This effort we put forth to make our life more organized is known as strategic planning. Without strategic planning, there is a good chance we might get lost on the way and don’t reach our destination.
However, when planning something in advance, one thing that is to be noted is that this strategic plan is not cast in stone. It is just a plan and not a definite strategy that we have to follow at all costs. The strength of a good plan is its inherent ability to change as required in response to the situation. Any good plan is flexible in nature and any good strategist is a person who is willing to change and to modify a plan, but also alter it if required and go ahead with a backup plan. Keeping a back-up plan ready is part of a good strategy.
Now let’s talk about how we can make strategic planning work in the case of bullying. We have to understand that bullying is inappropriate behavior which can never be justified under any situation. Bullying is something which affects everyone in the community. It has a devastating effect on the victim, sometimes pushing them to suicide. For the bully, it puts them on the path to become involved in vandalism, stealing or even murder.
To alleviate this we all need to change our mind set and put together a well thought out strategy in place that involves everyone. In this strategy, we have to train our focus not only on the schools and neighborhood where the bullying is happening, but on the community as a whole. We need to have a top-down strategy i.e. start at the top of the pyramid and work our way down. We have to start educating the members of the community, such as the school board, the police, the politicians, the school principal, all who form the top of this pyramid and can extend the initiative to encompass all those who form the base which includes the teachers and the parents. Once we have included all of these people in our initiative and these people become aware of how they need to respond to any incidents of bullying; we need to then widen the horizon and add the children to our initiative. (reportbullying.com offers a full program that trains everyone in the school system and community as well as online tools to aid in education and speaking up as well we offer a tracking system that tracks bullying, bad behavior and good chacter.)
It is easy to talk about making plans and calling them strategic plans, but they become effective if and only if we put these plans into action. To put the easiest of plans into action we need to have a vision in place. We have to visualize how the plan can be put into action so that it has maximum impact. Therefore, the key to making any plan work out as a strategy, rather than as a fizzled out plan, is the vision that is behind that plan.
To learn more about a perfect example of vision, we need not look further then Muhammad Ali as there won’t be anyone better than him who actually understood the true power of “vision”. Let me recount a small story that my grandpa once told.
Muhammad Ali, considered the greatest fighter of all time by the majority of boxing fans, would accurately predict not only the outcome of each fight, but also how his win would come about. Out of the nineteen fights he fought in, seventeen actually ended just as he predicted.
Once, Ali was scheduled to participate in a fight with Archie Moore. Boxing aficionados would remember that Moore also was no boxing slouch. Before that fight with Ali, he had knocked out more boxers than any other man in boxing history—131 in all.
One day while Ali was working out in the gym, a reporter came up to him and asked this question: “Ali, what is going to happen between you and Archie Moore?”
Ali predicted, “When you come to the fight, don’t block the aisle or the door because you will all go home after round four.”
The reporter asked, “How are you going to do it?”
Ali outlined his projection to the reporter “Well, let me tell you exactly how the fight is going to go:
“In round one, the bell will ring and I am going to bop him in the nose. In round two, I am going to do my Ali shuffle. Archie is going to chase me all around the ring but he won’t even touch me. Why? I’m way too smooth. In round three, I am going to walk out into the middle of the ring, raise my arms up in the air, and say, ‘Okay give me your best shot’. Archie is going to punch me right in the stomach and I am going to step back and say, ‘Is that all you’ve got?’ In round four, I’m going to knock him out.”
The reporter knew this would make a great sports story. Quickly, he went back to his office and wrote it up. It appeared in his newspaper the following day and was read by everyone including a certain Archie Moore.
The fight took place two weeks later and the vision actually came true. Muhammad Ali did exactly what he had predicted! Archie was out of the ring in fourth round.
Ali had a vision. He knew what he would do, step by step. That is why he was one of the most successful boxers in boxing history!
Similarly, when you make a strategy and share it with people, you have to make sure that all the people who are going to be a part of it actually understand the plan. You have to ensure that they comprehend what they are to do and why they are doing it. This is a very important part of the strategy just as every single cog of the wheel needs to be in its proper place, in synch with the whole machine; only then the vision that you started with can be translated into a reality.
Ideas on how to prepare a strategic plan
To prepare a strategic plan, start with the following:
- Have a clear goal.
- Make a plan on how you intend to move forward in achieving your goal.
- Make a list of people you can get involved.
- Prepare a list of benefits that will be available to all members of the community whom the initiative plans to affect in some way.
- Most important, remember to devise a plan that encompasses everyone, from supervisors to teachers to parents to students to the community.
The last point is the most important. The people at the top of any organization have to be involved if you intend to make any change in the organization.