IStock_000002771093XSmall The Japan natural disasters and nuclear crisis have illuminated to many people around the world the need to develop a sustainable strategic plan…one for the family.  Is your family prepared to react during a crisis situation? 

We take the time in our work environments to have an offsite retreat to speak strategically about the direction of the organization, but why do we not consider doing that for our home and family members?  Why not have a sustainable strategic planning retreat for the family?  Here are some suggestions to incorporate a sustainable strategic plan for your home. 

1. Choose key members of your household to participate in this planning process.  Just as you would choose your key staff members and leaders of your organization, you should choose the key members of your household to participate in this process.  These could be, for example, a combination of the parents, older children, caretakers/nannies and relatives.  All people who have key roles in your household should participate in this process. In this case, think of the sustainable strategic plan as a survival guide…how do you make sure the family is sustained! 

2. Pick an offsite location to have this retreat.  Similar to what you would do with a business, a sustainable strategic planning retreat would take place at a hotel or at a retreat center, consider taking the family to a special location.  You could dovetail nicely with a family outing at the same time.  For example, consider taking the family to a picnic shelter at a local park that you can reserve in advance.  All members of the family planning committee need to participate and can meet and discuss plans.  After the planning process is complete, then you can have a cookout and enjoy the park. 

3. Document what you've done and review this with the family.  I often mention this to my professinoal clients that you need to document what transpired at the retreat and make assignments for tasks.  There needs to be clear ownership regarding what activities will be done.  This should also apply when developing a sustainable strategic plan by family members.  If your family likes to work with Powerpoint slides and charts, then some of the documentation will be done with the creation of a presentation for the family.  Just make sure any modifications and updates are documented after you have the retreat and that there is a review session to make sure everyone is informed.

4. Create a communication plan and agree on a communal meeting place.  With natural disasters, often the conveniences we take for granted will not be available.  If that's the case, come up with an action plan regarding how to communicate with others.  Consider options regarding how you would communicate if you did not have your cell phone.  For example, you might decide that if a catastrophe hits, everyone in your family will first try meeting at the local church, fire department or police station.  Churches are often a hub for the community and can provide comfort.  Fire Departments and police stations, as first responders, may have triage centers that can handle reuniting families during a crisis situation.   If they direct people to a shelter, if the family members agree to go to one specific fire department or police station, all members will likely be directed to the same place. 

5. Do a test run of the plan.  Part of the reason why the Japanese people were able to save so many lives was due to the fact that they ran drills all the time.  People knew what to do in the case of a tsunami, and those who heeded the warnings saved their lives.  When you complete your family's plan, do a test run.  If your family is faced with this situation, run a drill to make sure everyone knows the plan. 

Although some of what I've described here may seem overdone, it is good business practice and has been tested in the professional environment for many years.  There's no reason why you couldn't consider developing a sustainable strategic plan for your family.

Do you have a sustainable strategic plan for your family? 

When was the last time you spoke as a family regarding emergency situations? 

The people in Japan were asked to evacuate and seek higher ground after the 9.0 earthquake.  They literally had about 30 minutes lead time.   Do you know what actions you will take if you are asked to evacuate right away?