“Strategic planning” is commonly used terminology to describe a myriad of methods used by organizations to determine their focus, direction and measures of success. Processes used and time invested in planning ranges from one day “retreats” to endless meetings that go on for months, regardless of the extent and success of previous planning efforts. Despite the widespread use of the terms and practice, unfortunately, few organizations get all that they are seeking from strategic planning.
Different organizations (and many strategic planning consultants) typically excel at one element of strategic thinking and business planning processes. For example:
- People involved in the process may be particularly adept at creative thinking and envisioning a bold future, yet they fall short of capturing that future in a written plan that guides actions to fulfill their purpose and achieve their bold vision.
- Others invest great effort in creating a written plan only to let it gather dust on a shelf. Some groups develop workable plans then fail to implement or fail to measure their results effectively.
- Others focus clearly on financial results while neglecting the leadership, human development, resources and systems factors necessary to produce these results efficiently while leveraging the “collective genius” of the organization.
- All too many who invest in long-term planning fail to cascade the plan effectively down to the daily work of “rank-and-file” of the organization. In effect, many businesses do strategic planning without any sustainable benefit other than to say “we did it” (or if you work closer to the front line, “they did it”).
Success is the continual achievement of your own predetermined goals, stabilized by balance and purified by belief.
There is a better way.
Strategic thinking and business planning processes should help you create a clear sense of purpose, direction and focus for all stakeholders that is measurable, sustainable, requires involvement and drives the actions of everyone – yes, everyone – in the organization to achieve predetermined results. The organization that effectively creates and executes a “strategic plan” will leverage its organizational genius and define:
- Who are we?
- Our reason for being;
- What do we believe and value;
- The needs that we exist to meet;
- The “business” that we are in.
- How our organization,
- our customers,
- and/or society as a whole will be different as we progress along the road to accomplishing our reason for being (or when you actually accomplish it!).
Together, these three issues offer a plan for success that allows people to understand what success means to the organization and how to know when success is being achieved. Thinking and planning around these provide the roadmap for implementation: