“After enlightenment comes the dishes” – or so the saying goes. For many companies, the strategic planning process is something that produces insights that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. While these peak experiences feel great, it’s time to come down from the mountain and do the dishes, or chop the wood, or any number of other expressions that simply mean it is time to go to work.

It’s essential, in Phase Five: Evaluation and Course Correction, particularly during the first 90 days, to check in regularly and frequently. I recommend 30-day intervals, so you’re never too far away from a course correction if you need to make one. Why should you be truing up and course correcting? Because a strategic plan is not something that is set in stone. It is meant to be a living, breathing, dynamic document.

Ask the most basic questions: Where are you relative to where you should be? Where are you succeeding? Where are you failing? Why?

Two years after I completed a plan with a large national organization, I stopped in to visit the CEO. She had a copy of the plan printed out on her desk. It was marked up with notes in the margins. There were yellow highlights throughout. Pages were dog-eared. They took their plan seriously, and it showed.

What was the outcome of their strategic planning process? Why did they bother to do it in the first place?

For her, it gave their organization a point of focus. It gave them attainable goals. It gave them instructions on how to direct their resources. And it taught them how to work together as a team, at a far more effective level than before.

You can review the series starting with Phase One, here.