In my experience, strategic planning typically comes undone by at least one of three commonly missed steps in the process. These steps are developing a base level of relevant knowledge, effective people utilisation and turning plans into actions.
So often, strategic planning is undertaken based on one or a group of individuals already set views of their organisation and the market they operate in. Those views may have been determined based on historical information or may be purely based on gut feeling. To plan for the future of your organisation you need to understand both current and historical trends of:
— Your clients
— Your staff
— Your product or services
— Your processes
— The market you operate in
— Current innovation trends
Without this knowledge as a base for strategic planning, you risk that your decision making does not align to the market need and is irrelevant or unrealistic for your business.
Whilst in day to day management you understand your staff capabilities and resource levels, you also need to utilise your people effectively in strategic planning. Strategic planning typically covers decisions on business direction including service innovation and improvement, marketing approach, planning around your people, finances and technology.
You typically hire experts in these areas however, often they don’t have a seat at the table for strategic planning. By giving them a voice in strategic planning, you open your options for knowledge development and increase the effectiveness of your decision making.
In the lead up to budgeting, you stop to think about plans for your organisation for the following year and you typically pull out your strategic plan from last year as a starting point. Too often, this is the first time you have looked at your strategic plan since when you completed it.
Whilst your management team is not necessarily the right level to execute the actions to deliver on a strategic plan, they need to provide authority and create accountability at the right level to follow through with the strategic plan. By breaking your strategic plan down into quarterly objectives and authorising the right people to action those objectives, you will not only deliver a strategic plan as a goal but live out your strategic plan as part of your every day business. Your strategic planning process then becomes an evolving journey aligned to a clear set of goals rather than a once a year process often forgotten.