Strategic planning. Every company needs to do it; but not every company does it well. The whole point of a strategic plan is to set a course for success, but all too often, the process itself can fall apart or the plan is forgotten once the reality of market conditions sets in. Whatever your challenges, here are four tips to help your organization excel at strategic planning.
Diversify, Diversify, Diversify
First and foremost, your strategic planning team should be as diverse as possible. The group of leaders you assemble should represent every area of the company. The results of your planning efforts will impact everyone in the organization, so it is imperative to have a full cross-section of representatives on the committee.
In order to ensure the team can focus on their goal and help jump-start creativity, diversify your meeting locations, as well. Hold planning sessions off campus, and try to book more than one location throughout the process. Changes of scenery help jolt people out of their regular patterns and modes of thinking.
Embrace the Devil’s Advocate
Rigid planning sessions that follow a tight structure, a set schedule and are guided by binders full of dense data aren’t going to yield innovative new ideas. Strategic planning should allow for lively debate and intense discussion.
A devil’s advocate who steps in and says, “what could go wrong with this strategy,” can help facilitate discussion, debate and further questioning. An effective devil’s advocate gets everyone thinking about potential snags; they question methods and they raise concerns about potential shortcomings and failures. The role doesn’t necessarily have to be assigned. By encouraging questions or simply asking them yourself, you can spark the deep conversations that will drive successful sessions.
Set the Strategic Plan in Clay, Not Stone
Your strategic plan gives you a road map to follow, but it should not be set in stone. No matter how thorough your committee may be, they cannot possibly account for every single possibility for the year ahead. Things happen that cannot be predicted, therefore the plan must allow some flexibility and leeway as needed. Successful companies adapt quickly to market changes, and your leaders must be willing to make adjustments as needed.
Prescribe Regular Check-Ins
How do you know if your strategic plans are working? You have to measure them, and you have to measure them regularly. The result of a planning cycle should always include a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to track progress.
Those KPIs should be checked up on at an interval that makes sense for your organization. It might be monthly, quarterly, or something in between. These checkups help keep evaluations from becoming subjective, and keep leaders and strategic planners focused on their goals throughout the year.
If you are looking for highly skilled professionals who can help your organization achieve its goals, reach out to the award-winning recruiting experts at Talon today. We can match you with the people who will drive your business forward.