Strategic Planning does not deal with future decisions. It defines the future of present decisions. As a leader your job is to have a blind date with destiny!
An active, articulate, well-communicated direction for a corporation, division, or business unit is evidence of game changing leadership. Effective strategic plans encompass organizational discipline, accountability and direction.
Does it follow that an organization that lacks a strategic plan also lacks leadership? Perhaps. The leader who claims, “Of course I know where we are going. With this market it is obvious what we have to do. Besides we cannot afford the money or the time right now to get away and plan. I will let the others in on the direction on a need-to-know basis” is at least several shingles short of a full roof when it comes to leadership.
As leaders, we often forget…we get what we set ourselves up for!
A strategic plan provides:
- A unified direction for your company: A strategic plan is a valuable leadership device. Employees sense when the organization is focused and when it is diffused.
- More effective communication: A consistent means of expressing the company’s direction improves communications with employees, customers, and creditors.
- Better anticipation of changing conditions: Effective planning means that most possibilities for change are considered and discussed. When high probability of change exists, contingent plans are built.
- Heightened sense of order and discipline: Clear targets, frequent measurement, and positive feedback create accountability and focus energy.
- Improved skills in group problem-solving and decision-making techniques: Planning is educational for both senior managers and new managers.
- Improved leadership and management skills for participants: An effective strategic facilitator will help Planning Team members understand what to do and why they are doing it.
- Enhanced teamwork: Planning Team members undergo a teambuilding experience through mutual problem-solving.
- Strengthened sense of commitment: As a Planning Team member, key managers gain a high sense of commitment to making the results happen. This commitment is much stronger than when a plan is developed by others and handed to the manager for execution.
- Greater focus for the efforts of key managers: Continuous reinforcement of goals and strategies builds focus for management.
What has your experience been with strategic planning? What was most valuable, the “plan” or the “process?”
Kirk writes, “As leaders, we often forget…. we get what we set ourselves up for”. This is true in so many facets of life. If managers/leaders had this thought in mind while making key decisions, then they would eliminate many of the problems that they set themselves up for. Just my opinion, but I feel the underlying issue here is to have more self-accountability and to take ownership of what you are setting up for your company/division/sales force/etc.
I really like point #8. Nothing is more frustrating than being told to “carry out the plan”. This is especially true if you are on the “front lines” in your company and upper management (or ownership) never even bothered to ask for your input. Its much easier to have a sense of commitment if you at least knew that your opinion was received and considered during the process of formulating the plan.
Thanks for sharing, Kirk. Another great article!