CAPE: Execute

In the final step of the CAPE Cycle, you and your team will put processes in place to ensure that your strategic plan is executed. 

The Most Important Step?

Of the four steps of the CAPE Cycle it is hard to say which one is most important. But If we had to choose we’d pick Step 4 -- Execute.

First, as indicated in the prior graphic, Step 4 is the biggest step in the process. You and your team may spend a couple of dozen hours conducting an assessment and writing your plan. But you’ll spend hundreds or thousands of hours executing it. 

Second, Step 4 is where things tend to fall apart. One of the biggest problems with strategic planning is that the plans collect dust. This problem is avoided when you succeed at Step 4. 

Third, this is the step where you and your team build your strategic planning muscle. Executing, measuring, and updating your plan -- week after week, month after month -- is how your organization will get stronger and be better able to hit its mission. 

You’re Already Set up for Success

By completing Steps 1-3 of the CAPE Cycle you are already well-positioned for successfully executing your plan. At this point you:

  • View Planning as a Cycle. You completely understand that strategic planning is an ongoing cycle (the CAPE Cycle) and not a one-time event. This mindset is essential to effectively executing your plan. 
  • Are Using Causey. Using Causey will make you and your team much more effective at strategic planning.
  • Have an Overall Champion(s). By establishing one or two people as overall champion(s) who are ensuring that the CAPE Cycle will be executed. 
  • Have Created a Well-structured Plan with Accountability Built In. You have established a simple, two-part plan that is easy to understand, communicate and use. Further, you have established a vision for different Focus Areas, have clear goals, and have established who will do what by when.
  • Developed Buy-in. As you may recall from Step 2, Assess, we said that people support what they help create. If you engaged others in the assessment and planning process then you're going to have more buy-in to executing your plan. 
  • Are Using Your Checklist. As presented in the Champion module, the Overall Champion(s) have a checklist that they can use to keep track of the different elements of the CAPE Cycle. 

In short, all of the work you’ve done thus far has positioned you for success. 

But there are few other things that you can do that will help you even more...

Critical: Measure Progress on Your Goals Monthly

An old friend of ours, Chris Barrow, likes to say that there is “no performance without accountability and no accountability without measurement."

With that in mind, it is important that your team’s Goal Champions measure progress every month on the goals that they are championing. This only takes a few moments but is an excellent way to ensure that your plan gets executed.

To help with this, sends goal champions an automated monthly email with links to their goals so that they can quickly measure and report progress to the team. 

Here is an article and video that shows you how to measure goal progress in the software.

Create Goal Action Plans

You walk a mile one step at a time. 

Similarly, you accomplish goals one action item at a time. 

Each of your goals should include an action plan that includes a set of short-term action items.

Action items are specific and measurable tasks that take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to accomplish. Like goals, they have due dates and persons responsible. 

Here is an article and video that shows you how to create action items within Causey.

Below is an example of what a set of action items can look like. 

Use Your Compass

One of the things that we’ve learned over the years is that people tend to focus on their goals in their strategic plan while paying little attention to their Compass. That’s a big mistake. 

Your Compass is the heart of your organization. Your mission statement and vision statement are the rallying cries for you and your team. Other elements of your Compass -- values, tag lines, diversity statements and key metrics, for example -- provide similar purpose, motivation and clarity. 

The goals are important, of course. But if you neglect your Compass then you’ll lose your way. 

To benefit most effectively from the Compass you’ll need to integrate it into your regular operations. Some ways to do this are: 

1. Staff and Board Meetings

Incorporate a 15-minute standing item called “Compass Discussion” on your relevant staff and board meetings. Examples of what this can look like are:

  • Review your mission and/or vision statements and discuss how your organization is pursuing them. You can also talk about how you find the statements personally motivating.
  • Discuss and review one of your organization’s key metrics.
  • Select one of your organization’s core values and have everyone take a moment to share how the value is being acted upon. 

2. Staff Performance

Integrate your organization’s mission, vision, and/or values into your staff performance process. You can have, for example, a discussion about the different elements of the Compass in your regular one-on-ones or the annual review.

3. Job Descriptions and Responsibility Documents

You’ll want to hire staff and select board members that are aligned with your Compass. Be sure to incorporate different elements of your Compass into your job descriptions and responsibility documents. 

4. Onboarding

Review the Compass as a component of your onboarding process for both new staff and board members. 

5. Marketing and Communications

Highlight the elements for your Compass on your website, newsletters, and other marketing collateral and communication.

Implementing these activities will ensure that everyone on your team is aligned with your Compass. The benefit will be a team that has more trust, deeper relationships, and an even stronger commitment to your organization's important work. 

Put Your Plan on Your Calendar, Not on Your Shelf

Having everyone on your team commit to an annual strategic planning calendar is an incredibly effective way of ensuring that your strategic plan is executed. 

As you examine our reference calendar, please note that the meetings occur at a quarterly (three-month) rhythm. Thinking and planning in quarterly chunks makes your overall plan more manageable.

1. A Quarterly Review

The quarterly review is a meeting for the full staff and/or board to review progress on the plan. The Compass can be discussed and progress on the goals can be reported on. Upcoming goals can be reviewed.

This review should take no more than 1-½ hours to complete.

If it is impractical to set up a separate meeting, then the intent of this session can be incorporated into a regular staff and/or board meeting. 

2. A Monthly Check-In for the Overall Champion(s)

Your overall champion(s) should schedule a monthly check-in to do the following:

- Measure progress on any key metrics within the Compass - Use the Reports tool in Causey to analyze your organization’s overall progress.  - Make sure that the focus area and goal champions are getting the support that they need. If those champions are succeeding then the plan will be much more likely to succeed. - Update and measure progress on any relevant goals. - Review the overall process and make course corrections as needed.

This check-in should take no more than an hour. 

3. An Annual Retreat

An annual retreat is when your team will button up the progress from last year’s plan and make sure that your updated plan is set for the next year. It also provides a great opportunity for the staff and board to strengthen their working relationships.

A big tip... Present your annual planning calendar at your retreat. Make sure that everyone on your team has the meeting dates on their calendar for the next year. 

Automate Your Calendar and Emails


Causey has a feature that allows you to sync the due dates of your goals and action items into your Google or iCal calendar. Here is a help article that shows you how to do this. 


Causey can send you automated email reminders to help you keep on track with your plan. 

1. Weekly Look-aheads

This email will remind you of your goals and action items that are due soon and also inform you of items recently completed.

2. Monthly Updates

This email will help you build a habit of looking at your overall plan on a monthly basis. The email contains links to reports on the progress of your plan.

Here is a help article that shows you how to sign up for these two emails.

Final Thoughts

Our vision at Mission Met is that small organizations everywhere use effective strategic planning to catalyze their impact. We hope that you and your organization are now part of that group. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know if there’s anything we can do for you. 

Thank you for participating in this process. We wish you the absolute best on your journey.