Adopt A New Business Principle to Make Strategic Planning Stick

A certain question inevitably arises whenever I work with clients on developing business strategies and architecting Strategic Plans. It goes something like this: “How do we ensure that the plan that we just created stays in synch with the ever changing direction of our organization?”

The concern is so prevalent, in fact, that I have come to recommend the adoption of a new business principle that, if adopted by the senior leadership team and institutionalized via their regularly scheduled planning meetings (held throughout the year), becomes the cornerstone of keeping the strategic plan relevant and vibrant for years to come.

Let me share with you this principle along with its rationale and implications:

Principle Statement:
Strategic Planning will be a continuously performed process and all new initiatives will be evaluated via this process before inclusion in the Strategic Plan.

Rationale:
This principle is an important means of turning the widely accepted and outdated idea about strategic planning as being nothing more than an annual budget planning exercise on its ear.

Instead, this principle calls for strategic planning to become a constant, continuous process that ensures that businesses are able to adjust and evolve as competitive necessities dictate.
Further, by embracing this notion, the organization is clearly recognizing the value of the Strategic Planning practice as a means for evaluating future business options and investment choices (while it further recognizes the Strategic Plan as the proper placeholder for “all things strategic”).

Finally, the Strategic Plan documentation element ensures that the Best Practices Enterprise™ (see heading above for a definition) has an “organizational memory” which can be referenced in the future as the individual’s memories of what took place have faded.

Implications:
· The Strategic Planning process must be documented and published.

· Personnel (at all levels) must be trained in the planning process and be required to apply it in all that they do.

· A Communications program must be put in place to ensure that all staff fully understands the planning process and their role in it.

· A Strategic Planning Office must be staffed in order to administer the planning process and ensure its integrity.

· Because of the procedural and cultural change that this principle represents, the management team must be prepared for some resistance among their ranks, and, be willing to work to keep each other “honest” as the new planning behaviors are being learned.

Certainly, there’s a lot to making plans and sticking to them. But, the adoption of a new business pricniple aimed at instituting and formalizing the planning process can go a long way to making your strategic plan a lasting and important management tool.

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6 thoughts on “Adopt A New Business Principle to Make Strategic Planning Stick

  1. I have seen this particular principle work when I was head of the U.S. Marketing Division within a Japanese insurance company. The strategic plan was an extremely useful communication tool amongst our Japanese and Western colleagues. There would be inevitable misunderstandings on ideas and intent amongst the group and the Strategic Plan would provide an effective means to remediate those misunderstandings so that progress could occur. Adjustments or compromises could be made to the plan so that the individual could experience being part of the group which therefore promoted buy in for the multi-cultural group at large. We learned over time that flexibility was the key to having a viable and vibrant Strategic Plan.

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  2. I, too, have witnessed how important the adopton of this principle can be within international business settings.In fact, solid communication and an improved willingness to put aside parochial interests (which can often shade judgment within senior management teams that are struggling for superiority across borders) are important by-products of adopting this business principle.Thanks for your comment.

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  3. I am currently responsible for overseeing a Strategic Planning effort at my company. We’ve done what we call “planning” in the past, but this is something that we do every day – an ongoing effort that is flexible enough to respond to changing business needs, but disciplined enough so we don’t get distracted from our goals. As the head of the department who monitors and communicates our plan, I couldn’t have done it without support from associates and Excecutive Team. And we wouldn’t have that support without a Business Principle that we all understand and live by. It’s become a part of what we do and I know our company will be more successful because of it.

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  4. This is a back-to-basics message. We need more of this in US business today. I’d like to read more on the subject and get additional insights into how do make this happen more smoothly in Fortune 100 companies. Adopting this principle is surely a start.

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  5. We are currently going through this process at our company. How do we keep a good level of energy and help the workforce remain focused and driven? As a leader and part of the guiding coalition I am challenged with this responsibility and want to do what is needed to help with success in our transformation.

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  6. As part of the guiding coalition it is absolutely imperative that you articulate a compelling vision, one that all of your staff can respond to and see themselves working in. Once that is done, your job nis to promote this vision whenever you can, at meetings, during workshops when talking to colleagues. Energy comes when people see that they can be part of something bigger than themselves. Make your firm’s vision the cause that every employee rallies around.

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