Strategic Planning Can Make or Break You
Do you have a Strategic Plan or do you need help with one?
Do You Have a Compass?
Strategic Planning is one of the most important aspects of organizational design, management and leadership. It is the organization’s compass. It is how an organization determines “True North”. Done correctly, strategic planning is the foundation of effective organizational leadership. Done poorly, it is like going to a bad dentist without Novocaine.
Same old Stuff?
There has been a great deal of work on systematizing strategic planning over the years. And between academia and the consulting industry, traditional strategic planning has been institutionalized into a fairly consistent process in principle, with the major components of a strategic plan being fairly common.
The Stigma of Strategic Planning
Unfortunately, strategic planning has a stigma associated with it, with many who have experienced the process regarding it as a necessary evil. This stigma has arisen for a number of reasons including:
- The process has suffered under the pressure to be institutionalized and in such, key elements of the process have been lost, and the critical facilitation element of the process is often rote, paint by numbers templates. Furthermore, relentless institutionalization has pushed the paradigm of strategic planning toward an outcome orientation rather than a process philosophy. Hence strategic planning often ends up being a tiring and arduous exercise in creating a planning document with marginal buy-in that simply sits on a shelf.
- Furthermore, strategic planning, when done well, will often uncover issues, errors and Oh Shits™ that can implicitly threaten members of the participating team. Strategic planning is often viewed as risky.
- Moreover, strategic planning takes time, isolation from distraction, hard work and often involves change management, conflict resolution and mediation of competing interests and hidden agendas. Many leaders and organizations simply do not want to commit the time and offline their management team in order to implement effective strategic planning. Or they face significant pushback from their teams, who do not want to take the time either. Nor are they ready to make the ongoing time and energy commitment that is required for the process of ongoing strategic planning, because strategic planning is a process, not an outcome. It takes commitment and requires attention.
Strategic Planning was invented for a Good Reason
However, strategic planning can be the most effective tool in the arsenal of organizational design and management techniques. Proper strategic planning should insure maximum innovation, competitiveness, profitability, process efficiency, brand management, corporate development, brand and corporate integrity, stakeholder management and shareholder value. The process will pay for itself in all areas of the organization, particularly the bottom line. For entrepreneurs, this process is the core to having a leadership compass, guiding doctrines, aligned values and actionable vision.
Furthermore, strategic planning is not institutionalized. It is an art and a science. It requires expert facilitation, experience in the management of small group process, skilled techniques and buy-in as an ongoing process.
Every strategic planning exercise should result in a plan. But the world is a rapidly moving target, and a strategic plan must be a living document, part of a regular dynamic and invigorating process of exploration as well as renewal. Strategic planning includes team building, visioning, and empowerment in addition to research, creativity and hard decision making.
But, most importantly, strategic planning should leave an organization and its leadership with critical Back Pocket Strategies™, that simplify the complexity of the organization’s strategies into the fundamental elements that are required to run an effective and sustainable organization, namely the Martial Art of Decision making™, Language of leadership™, the language of decision making™, the language of perspective™ and the language of values™. This language, the core to any effective and sustainable organization drives the Business plan, the Brand and Leadership of the organization. Everything in any organization is driven by its storytelling. Think about it. What in an any organization makes it run? The stories that flow from its leadership to management and into action. Coherence is everything. The strategic plan is the core of any organization’s story.
We have performed strategic planning for captains of industry, major corporations as well as small entrepreneurial organizations in normal, crisis and turnaround situations.
We manage diverse groups of senior managements at all stages of the planning process. And we know how to bring vigor and fun, challenge and critical thinking together in a process that results in actionable plans that can also serve as corporate governance frameworks.