The process of strategic planning is essential for any organisation, which makes this a key skill to hone. More effective strategic planning can enable better decision making and more appropriate and efficient allocation of resources, as well as more clearly defined vision and goals. If you want to improve your strategic planning approach then these are our top tips:
- Make time for it. If you’re only ever trying to fit strategic planning into the gap between every day chaos and taking time off it’s unlikely to be productive. Dedicate time and headspace to this essential process.
- Focus on the team. When you have a good team then strategic planning instantly becomes simpler. Up to 10 is the ideal number for this type of session, each person representing the key areas of the business between them. Make sure everyone is engaged with the process and ready to contribute in terms of the future of the business from their perspective.
- Avoid the hierarchy. Strategic planning sessions are always the most effective when everyone involved is able to say exactly what they think regardless of their position in the business. It may be constructive to involve an outside facilitator in the process to ensure people feel able to speak up.
- Plan your strategic planning sessions. It’s always useful to have some kind of structure to sessions that can be quite creative. The time you dedicate to strategic planning will be wasted if you don’t also come up with a plan for execution. So, when you’re scheduling the sessions make sure that you’ve defined the objectives and outcomes that they are designed to achieve before anything gets under way.
- Any plan that you design must be practical. Lofty ideals and dreamy eyed visions for the business won’t help to move it forward. What’s key when it comes to strategic planning is to create something that can actually be implemented. That will necessarily include the following:
- Creating specific goals and objectives
- Identifying next steps
- Allocating responsibility to certain people
- Setting deadlines
- Making individuals accountable
- Close one session by looking forward to the next one. When you finish a strategic planning meeting with your team make sure that you set out all the next steps right up to the point of the next planned session. When the meeting breaks up everyone should understand what happens afterwards, especially when it comes to their own responsibilities.
- Allow for adjustment. If you create a rigid plan then it will soon crumble and any momentum will be lost. Instead, opt for planning that is more resilient and fluid, and which can adapt to changes in the business, whether those come from internal or external influences.
- Be consistent. It’s most effective to have a strategic planning review every quarter at least. What results have you seen over the past three months, what (and who) has succeeded and failed and what are the consequences and rewards? Regular reassessment will allow you to keep the business on track.
The art of strategic planning can be transformative – it’s a skill that is essential to learn and which can yield impressive results.
Our Strategic Planning training course is designed to help businesses establish a set of key measurements, match these with targets and the appropriate resource levels.