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How can you make Strategic planning work?
Some reasons for failure of Strategic Planning:
- Planning carried out without consulting the people who will be involved in executing the resulting plan.
- Vision or Mission unclear
- Stated Values at odds with actual enterprise culture.
- Strategic plans that are incomplete in terms of what they should cover.
- Strategic plans for which progress cannot be measured.
- A process to produce the plan that lasts months, even years.
- Strategic plans that are not strategic in their outlook.
- Strategic plans that are not accompanied by a process for monitoring progress and updating plans in the light of changed circumstances.
- Strategic plans that, once developed, are then ignored.
Important factors in designing a robust Strategic Planning process:
- The strategic planning process itself has a clearly communicated objective.
- Planning is carried out in consultation with the people who will be involved in executing the resulting plan.
- There are clear and clearly communicated statements of Vision, Mission and Values.
- Strategic plans accommodate all main facets of the operations of the enterprise.
- Planning is informed by a strategic outlook and associated data.
- Strategic Objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bounded).
- The Strategic Plan is produced in a timely fashion.
- There is an ongoing process for monitoring and review of progress, and annual updating of the Strategic Plan.
It is often said that, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential”
(a sentiment generally attributed to Dwight Eisenhower and to Winston Churchill).
The process is carried out by a small team of say, 8–10 people, working with a facilitator, and consulting regularly with everyone else in the enterprise.
There are three phases.
1. Preliminary work by the planning team:
- Conduct a SWOT analysis and Stakeholder analysis, in consultation with everyone else.
- If possible, consult with key stakeholders identified in (a) about future directions and needs.
- Develop some preliminary ideas about Vision, Mission and Values.
2. Intensive planning week with the facilitator:
- Finalise Vision, Mission and Values and confirm with everyone else (overnight Web-based consultation)
- Stakeholder Analysis with consultation
- Development one or more preliminary Strategic Objectives relating to each stakeholder group, consult and confirm.
- Develop corresponding draft Strategies and Measures of Success, consult and confirm.
- Assemble 1(c), 2(c) and 2(d) into draft Strategic Plan, consult and confirm.
- Develop corresponding 1-year draft Operational [or Business] Plan, consult and confirm.
- Develop a process for monitoring, reviewing and updating the Strategic Plan and generating the yearly Operational Plans.
3. Institute the Stakeholder Value Management processes:
Developed in this fashion, with a primary focus on stakeholder future needs, the natural Measures of Success (2(d)) are the top-level metrics from Stakeholder Value surveys.
- Vision, Missions and Values statements
- Strategic Plan and Operational Plan (each 3 – 4 pages), with associated metrics
- Ongoing planning and monitoring processes.
Monitoring overall progress can be via the Stakeholder Value surveys, which should be conducted at least twice each year.
These surveys also provide critical input for the annual review of the Strategic Plan, in order to update it as appropriate and to generate the next annual Operational Plan.