Watch Your Words When You are Updating a Strong Strategic Plan


It’s so exciting to work with high performing organizations.

I was recently invited to speak at an all staff event for a regional organization that is part of a national entity.  National headquarters had required four locations to merge a few years ago.  Everyone had to reapply for their jobs and/or express an interest in another role…even the people who had been with the organization for over 20 years!

The leader of the new combined regional organization had welcomed input and guidance from the national headquarters.  They did pilot projects.  They established new procedures.  They embraced national’s updated vision and mission.  This region is now the role model for others. WOW have they been busy!

The pre-merger regional strategic plan was exceptionally well done.  And now it was time to “refresh” the strategic plan.  So they created a few task forces. They brought in board members, employees, customers, and volunteers for a few full day Saturday sessions.  And they utilized conference calls in between. Very impressive, huh?  Clearly, this organization has proven that the people are capable, dedicated, team players who want things to turn out well.

When the board convened to report out on the conclusions reached by the task forces, there were tweaks to the mission statement and updated numbers for goals.  And there were major initiatives proposed. It’s helpful that the “refreshed” strategic plan had been a participative process because the proposed new initiatives are very ambitious.

Before being a guest at that board meeting, I had just spent a day conducting back to back interviews with key employees and board members from various locations. They are bright, hard working…and tired.

I found myself speaking up at the board meeting asking the leadership to revise some of the wording on the refreshed strategic plan so they wouldn’t sound like the next wave of effort would be as difficult and stressful as the last. Instead of a big new initiative or asking MORE MORE MORE, it pays to use words that convey that they are building on success, can become more specific now, can realize better results if some details now develop.  They built a great huge cake coming through that merger intact.  A request now must sound like the addition of icing and not like a demand to bake tons of pies.

A few years living and experiencing a bold strategic plan surfaces insights, deeper details, and raises the bar. It’s important not to skip past the celebration of success before demanding bigger and better things from people who are already tired.


Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST®. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. She owns and operates a suite of companies that help privately held midsized companies achieving accelerated growth with sustained profitability® through opportunity & resource analysis, 4 approaches to strategic planning, executive advisory services, growth financing, and targeted search.  2012 is Ambler’s 8th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer syndicated on line talk show that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. An archive of over 300 interviews is available at She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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Growth Strategy Tip


...strong facilitator with a good understanding of the group planning dynamic and able to bring out the best ideas from the group.

William Marino
Horizon BC/BS

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