Strategic planning can conjure notions of the corporate boardrooms, massive budgets, and endless hours wasted putting together documents that sit on the shelf untouched. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Implementing a more practical and useful approach to strategic planning can make it a more straightforward concept that can drive your organization to complete its missions, guide critical decision making, and increase your company’s efficiency. In this article, entrepreneur Keith Orie talks about five significant steps you can take to make the strategic planning process more successful.
Assemble a Core Team
For effective strategic planning, it’s essential to include representation from all key areas of your organization. Different perspectives make for more comfortable and accurate implementation and dissemination of processes once the strategic plan is created. Your core team should feel heard, have a stake in the processes, and agree on goals upfront.
Speed Up the Process
Many organizations’ strategic planning meetings are long and drawn out. But why? You can speed up these sessions by dedicated advanced planning to make the discussion more efficient. Layout ground rules and assign a time-keeper. If too long is spent on a particular topic, pose the question: ‘What are we achieving with this discussion?’ This will help to refocus the conversation on big-picture goals.
Your strategic plan should be realistic, measurable, and data-driven. Understand the intrinsic motivations of your employees. Create accountable, measurable activity at all levels, from individuals to teams to divisions. Make decisions on unbiased and intelligent information, not emotion. Using these strategies will significantly simplify the process, making your strategic planning sessions more productive.
Project Several Scenarios
The future isn’t predictable, so don’t treat it as such. You don’t have control over all the external factors influencing your business, so do your best to project different scenarios that could be incurred. This should start with the long-term (5-10 years out), then work backward to more short-term potential complications. While you’re not going to forecast every possible roadblock, the more prepared you are, the better.
Have Fun With It
Who says strategic planning can’t be fun? If your team is groaning over the prospect of strategic planning, find ways to shake things up. Utilize structured thinking exercises to alleviate the pressure of starting from scratch, giving your employees something to build from through productive conversations based on their areas of expertise.
The result of a more playful brainstorming session can be unique out-of-the-box ideas that can be distilled down, encouraging employees to think in unconventional ways. It also makes your employees more engaged and valued, improving your overall bottom line.
Strategic planning is a learned skill that takes time to perfect. You can streamline and simplify your strategic planning strategy through the suggestions given above, making the experience more enjoyable and productive for both you and your employees. Don’t settle for drawn-out, mind-numbing strategic planning sessions; ignite an exciting environment that values critical thinking and diverse opinions!