It is less about the process wherein which you develop your strategy. It is more about taking the time with your team to develop one. The myriads of excuses to not complete a strategic planning process include: time, lack of of aligned leadership team, poor processes and fear that you will not hit the goals set forth in the strategic plan.
According to the book “Playing to Win” – Strategy is “an integrated set of choices which uniquely position a firm in its industry so as to create a sustainable advantage by being able to offer superior value relative to its competition.” That is a lengthy definition – essentially a strategy is a “plan to win”.
Here are 5 ideas to consider as you develop your strategic plan.
1.) The Voice Of The Employee: Commonly the leadership team will take on the development of the strategic plan. One client shared that once the team completes the plan they return from “the top of the mountain and reveal the scrolls.” What about the employee that runs the facilities or greets clients at the front desk? More often than not they observe things that you may not notice.
Recently, I took a group of 45 employees through a company analysis, which included company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The ideas that were generated from this process were outstanding. It also sent a message to the leadership team that they need to include employees in the process.
2.) Mission, Vision and Values: Mission answers the question – “Why do we show up?” – Vision answers the question – “Where are we going?” – Values – “Are a set of guiding principles that govern how we approach our work and clients.”
“A choice to serve everyone, everywhere – or to simply serve all comers – is a losing choice.” – Playing To Win
3.) Programs and Projects: A program lasts forever and is an ongoing initiative. A program does not have a start or a stop. Typically, programs include Operations, Talent Management, Financial and Sales. A project is supportive of programs. The key difference is that a project has a beginning or an end.
A metaphor for this is your lawn. The lawn exists forever, just like a program. A project would be analogous to seasonal flowers, which come and go with each season. Flowers have a start and a stop, but the lawn exists forever. The flowers support the lawn. Projects support programs.
4.) Success Measures: How do you know if you are making progress? Success measures include metrics – sales, revenue, profit margin and employee engagement measures. These ought to be clear vs fuzzy. A fuzzy goal is – “increase sales” a clear goal is “increase sales in 2017 by 20%.’
“To truly win in the marketplace, a company needs a robust process for creating, reviewing, and communicating about strategy; it needs specific measures to ensure that the strategy is working.” Playing To Win
5.) Plan Communication: Once you have documented that plan, how will you share the information at the team level? Communicate it once, then once again and once again. Consider mediums like Town Hall Sessions, Digital Signage & Placards. Your internal ‘wiki’ or other technology platforms can keep the essential elements of the strategic plan on the forefront.
Research indicates that employees commonly complain that they do not know what the company priorities are. Your job as a leader is to help employees understand and prioritize. A communication strategy is not an event it is an ongoing process. Many companies I work with complete a communication activity and think that the job is done.
Hopefully, these 5 elements will serve as a guide, as you develop your corporate strategic plan. Remember, to not get too focused on the ‘right or wrong’ process. Instead engage in a process to advance your strategic planning efforts.
“In strategy, there are no absolute answers or sure things, and nothing lasts forever. In the end, building a strategy isn’t about achieving perfection; it’s about shortening your odds.” Playing To Win