5 Tips for Better Strategic Planning

5 Tips for Better Strategic Planning
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Update and Upgrade for Better Strategic Planning
The odds of designing and executing strategies that lead to high performance are not in your favor.  In fact, research shows that most companies struggle to just break even.  But those that do thrive, the top 20%, account for most profits.

Our organizational alignment research found that better strategic planning, along with an approach that aligns culture and talent with strategy, leads to better strategic results in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.

For those organizations not at the top of the pack, it is time to rethink the strategic planning process and revamp strategy cascading and execution in a way that moves both the people and the business forward.

Five Tips on How to Do Strategic Planning Right
Having worked with clients over three decades as they struggle to craft clear, believable, and implementable strategic plans to galvanize their teams, we have identified five tips for better strategic planning:

  1. Create an Ongoing Strategic Planning Process
    With today’s speed of change, it is unrealistic for leaders to believe that an annual strategic planning cycle is equal to the challenges that they will face. Sequestering your executive team for one week a year to plan strategy simply cannot adequately consider, or take advantage of, shifts in the marketplace. Instead, organizations need a continuous process that is reviewed as updates are needed.

    We recommend that leaders gather at least once a month to scan the marketplace, review progress to date, challenge strategic assumptions, hold further strategy conversations, and update strategic priorities.

  1. Get Real
    The best strategies make difficult choices. Difficult choices require constructive debate.  Constructive debate requires trust and an open dialogue.

    Ensure that your leadership team openly discusses and vigorously debates multiple alternatives for growth and the associated risks. Have the discussions focus on making strategic choices, not on making tactical plans or budgets.  Are you targeting the right clients?  Should your business model shift? What truly differentiates you from the pack?  What strategic scenarios should you be prepared for?

    We recommend that you invest the time to create an environment of trust and constructive debate.

  1. Ruthlessly Allocate Resources
    Nothing signals strategic priorities and commitment more than where resources are allocated. Once you identify the critical few strategic moves that matter most, you must ensure resources are not spread too thin.  Big strategic bets cannot be won with incremental shifts.

    Of course you need to run the business, and running the business requires the commensurate tactics and resources.  But if you have more than three strategic moves, you have not defined true strategic priorities.  Resource allocation should enable strategy execution.

    We recommend that leaders review and reallocate resources on a monthly basis.

  1. Shift Your Culture to Align with Your Strategy
    Strategies must go through culture (the way work gets done) and people (those responsible for executing it) to be successfully implemented. As you plan for “What” you want to achieve, do not underestimate “How” people must think, behave, and work.  An aligned culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies.

    We recommend ensuring that your culture is set up to help, not hinder, your strategic ambitions.

  1. Have Clear and Compelling First Steps
    Strategic vision without action is just wishful thinking. Once your strategic priorities are clear and committed to, it is time to agree upon the next steps required to make the strategic goals a reality.  Employees tell us that great ideas without a clear roadmap can lead to feelings of frustration, disengagement, and skepticism.

    We recommend you actively involve key stakeholders to co-define the steps required in the next 90-days to start off on the right foot.

The Bottom Line
To create strategic clarity and higher performance, strategic planning must be considered an ongoing journey that is invested in, challenged, and monitored, not an annual event that drives incremental budget changes. If your strategy is not putting you at the head of the pack, it is time to change the game.

To see how your strategy stands up to high performers, download 7 Proven Ways to Stress Test Your Strategy Now

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