I’ve shared the planning practices of the president/CEO of QWANtify, a leading IT consulting firm, followed by my shared experiences and planning perspectives. Today’s column will bring the strategic planning series to a close by establishing a roadmap for those of you who want to advance the focus and insights gained through your strategic planning journey.
To leverage benefits from the strategic planning process, understand what pieces you’ve already implemented, where you are in your journey, and what will be critical to advance in the coming year. If you have started in the middle without laying the proper foundation, you may need to back-up before moving ahead.
Your success will begin and end by having the right leaders on your strategic planning team. While members of your management team will be essential, invite others to participate and represent stakeholders. Consider those who will speak up, ask great questions, respectfully challenge the status quo, and offer new perspective.
The past is the past and the future is nothing but possibility. You already realize that many of your team members have a tough time stepping out of the present and the growing list of fires they are attempting to put out. As you build your planning team, invite those are not only competent at managing their functional agendas and teams, but set aside time to look to the future. Your success will depend on it.
I am always surprised how many businesses jump headfirst into the planning process without reviewing existing documentation – especially data on their changing market and competitive landscape. How can a business effectively plan if they start without a basic understanding of their markets, the trends within them, and how their competitors are repositioning?
Business owners tell me that membership in the strategic planning process is only for executives. Others will be engaged once the plans have been finalized and they are ready to implement. Your team is leaving a valuable opportunity on the table, as they can not only provide you constructive feedback, but also help to build shared agreement and commitment early on.
In her book, Beyond Price, Kay Plantes does a fabulous job of defining the key decisions and the process for exploring the impact of those decisions on your business model. After assembling the right team of leaders and assessing the competitive landscape, what better understanding to build and share than the business model that will elevate you above the commodity fray.
Finally! We launch the strategic planning process to bring focus and shared commitment to our vision, mission and strategic goals. Having prepared well, your team will be able to define the strategic imperatives needed to establish your competitive advantage. Resist the temptation to include a strategic goal for all things urgent and important.
Having a framework of strategic imperatives for the next three to five years is not enough. Next, your team needs to transition to implementation. An operating plan needs to provide your team a critical path of tasks, accountabilities and due dates for the coming year. I often in assist by developing and facilitating a series of review meetings where champions and team leaders come to the strategic planning committee to reports wins, status, key learning’s and recommended changes.
We started our process with leadership, engaged stakeholders along the way and continue leveraging our leadership role as we master change and learning. Key mindsets and actions center on your orientation to the future, engaging others in strategy conversations, your growing comfort with ambiguity, demonstrating a sense of urgency, balancing short- and long-term plans, and your ability to adapt to changing conditions.
Don’t misunderstand this roadmap as a step-by-step process to strictly follow; but as an iterative guide that you will work your way through, with stops, returns and re-focusing along the way. My best to you as you re-position and guide your organization towards a preferred future.