7 Steps to Upgrade Your Strategic Planning Process

a chart showing you need to Upgrade Your Strategic Planning Process

Upgrade Your Strategic Planning Process
Whether you know it or not, you probably need to upgrade your strategic planning process.

  • IBM found that less than 10% of well formulated strategies are effectively executed.
  • Booz found that employees at 60% of companies rated their organization weak at translating strategies into action.
  • Our own organizational alignment research found that employees have 50% less faith in their company’s strategic plan than their leadership team.

What we hear repeatedly from leaders is that their finely crafted strategic plans are not being implemented at the quality or speed that they expect.  What we hear from employees is that the strategy is not clear enough, believable enough, or agreed-upon enough to work.  We believe it’s time for a fresh look at the entire strategic planning process.

7 Steps to Upgrade Your Strategic Planning Process
For a much greater probability of success in executing your strategy, try a different approach.  Your strategy will be more likely to succeed if you:

1. Scrap the Annual Ordeal
Instead of considering strategy planning as a yearly event, think of it as a living, breathing, and ongoing process. With the advanced rate of change today, organizations need the flexibility to test, learn, and adjust.  Schedule regular strategy sessions with your leaders to review the big moves you had planned, the progress executing them, and the barriers that must be addressed.

2. Select Only 2 or 3 Big Moves
Don’t try to make too many big strategic bets at once.  You’re much more likely to achieve success if you don’t dilute your efforts.  Focus on the two or three big moves that will give you the greatest chance of achieving your vision for success.  Then ruthlessly allocate resources accordingly.

3. Encourage Constructive Debate
Be sure you examine each strategic bet carefully and without bias. Look at various options, question underlying assumptions, and openly debate the alternatives.  The discussions around strategic bets should be more about making smart choices than about approving or rejecting a plan.  Consider, challenge, reflect, and then commit.

4. Be Clear on the Current Situation
Before you can realistically engage people in a more promising future, you must actively get everyone on the same page regarding your current situation, the key complications, and major implications of both success and failure. For example, if new leadership thinks they are inheriting a “dumpster fire” as one CEO put it, but employees believe that things are fine, it will be difficult to rally the troops to change their ways.

5. Evaluate Ideas Before Assessing Risk
To encourage your managers not to take the safest path but to offer innovative ideas, ask them for growth or improvement plans. Then with the best ideas in front of the team, you can assess both the upside and downside of each proposal.

6. Get Top Leaders in Sync as a Team
Planning big moves should not be a competition but a team effort. To start, all company leaders need to have a sense of joint ownership in order to do the right thing for the organization.  Focus on team, rather than individual, agreement, commitment, and accountability.

7. Actively Engage and Get Going
Every long-term vision needs a concrete first step. A great idea without a roadmap is just wishful thinking and can create frustration, ambiguity, cynicism, and disengagement. Actively involve stakeholders describing their own reality, influencing the design of the vision for success, and developing the first steps to make the vision a reality.

The Bottom Line
Increase your chances of becoming one of the elite organizations that gets strategic planning and strategy execution right.  Re-think your strategic planning process in a way that is innovative, flexible, productive and leads to successful implementation.

To learn more about how to upgrade your strategic planning process, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

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