“The plans say you’re responsible for this.  Make sure you get it done by June.

Too often, we treat planning and execution as two separate things. Leadership make plans; departments and workers are told to execute them. Meanwhile, those charged with execution don’t see the full vision of the plans. They end up in silos, blithely executing their tasks, without knowing how their work affects the work of others, or how their work is woven into the whole.

But planning and execution are a seamless fabric; planning must include execution, and execution must reference the underlying plans. Building execution into the planning, and including those who do it in the process, makes for a smoother transition from the theoretical to the practical.

There is a cascade from vision to plan to strategy to action, that creates a picture of how each action contributes to the whole. When this cascade is shared with – and built with! – those tasked with execution, everyone has a common language and goal; everyone understands where they fit into the whole. Whether it’s a small museum or a large public garden, including staff in planning generates buy-in and pride in the organization. Ultimately, each person sees how they contribute to the enterprise.

Yet detailed, inclusive planning comes with a risk.

When everyone knows where they are headed, and execution is planned in detail, changing course can seem as impossible as turning around the Titanic. This is where a culture of innovation and risk leadership is important.

This is a second benefit of including everyone in planning the execution.

There is empowerment when everyone in the organization knows and participates in generating the ultimate goal and strategies. This empowerment means they feel permitted – perhaps even obligated – to bring new ideas to the table. Instead of focusing on new ways to execute a strategy, they can seek new ideas for reaching the ultimate goal. They can think of solutions at levels beyond their own tasks.

When everyone in the organization can bring new ideas to the table, the sheer abundance of new ideas provides fodder for thought.  Goals may stay the same – but strategies will benefit from the abundance of ideas.

Inclusive planning takes advantage of the brains, experiences and points of view of many more people. Why waste these talents?

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