The most effective strategic planning processes emphasize foresight, readiness, and responsiveness rather than bureaucracy. Many organizations find that their strategic planning process is too inflexible, restrictive, and slow to react to change. They see it as disconnected from the day-to-day execution of their plans. In the face of rapidly changing environments, they wonder if their process can help them identify the potentially game-changing opportunities that will create long-term value.
At the core of these worries is the false belief that strategic planning is only yearly budgets and five-year plans. These time-honored planning approaches work admirably in predictable and tranquil industries; however, tranquility is becoming increasingly rare. More fickle surroundings necessitate more flexible approaches that can keep up with the speed of planning required to stay ahead of the market.
WHAT IS STRATEGIC PLANNING?
Strategic planning is a process used by organizations to create a long-term vision and plan for achieving it. It involves setting goals, identifying and assessing opportunities and risks, and developing and implementing a course of action to achieve the desired results.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to strategic planning, there are some best practices that all organizations should follow to ensure that their strategic planning process is effective.
Below, we will discuss our four best practices for strategic planning.
FOUR STRATEGIC PLANNING BEST PRACTICES
These are the four core characteristics of the most effective strategic planning processes.
- CONTINUOUS STRATEGIC PLANNING TO KEEP YOUR STRATEGIES FRESH AND CURRENT
It is essential to keep the strategic dialogue fresh in order to achieve optimum results. Without inspiration and innovation, the process can become stagnant. leading practitioners know this, and so they focus on constantly changing strategic questions, as well as redesigning processes that no longer work in today’s fast-paced environment.
- DEFINE MULTIPLE STRATEGIES THAT REPRESENT MUTIPLE FUTURES
It is crucial to consider strategy at various time horizons and with plausible futures in order to be successful. This means having different goals, stakeholders, and rhythms for each time frame and not neglecting any of them. In addition, it is necessary to frequently update and invigorate the strategic dialogue to stay ahead of the competition. This can be done by focusing on different strategic questions and redesigning processes as needed.
- ALL IN ENGAGEMENT
Broadening the perspective beyond the central strategy team to key stakeholders such as business leads, board members, teams, customers, and suppliers can help avoid groupthink, boost preparedness and responsiveness, and lead to more successful strategy execution.
- PRIORITY, COMMITMENT, INVESTMENT, RESOLVE
It is essential to have clear communication, but it is also important to have a complete commitment at all levels of the organization, with an action-oriented mindset that is supported by the right capital allocation, organization, and metrics. Strategic initiatives need to be protected and prioritized separately from day-to-day business performance.
STRATEGIC PLANNING SUCCESS MEANS
We have identified the following additional considerations in achieving enduring strategic planning value.
Set SMART goals
One of the most important aspects of effective strategic planning is setting clear goals. Additionally, the goals should be aligned with the mission and vision of the organization.
Goals should be specific and SMART:
Setting clear goals ensures that everyone involved in the strategic planning process is working towards the same objectives and that progress can be accurately monitored.
Involve all stakeholders
Another important best practice for strategic planning is involving all stakeholders in the process. Stakeholders include anyone who will be affected by the implementation of the strategic plan, such as employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, and partners.
Involving all stakeholders ensures that everyone has a say in the direction of the organization and that they are committed to achieving the goals of the strategic plan. It also helps to identify potential roadblocks and opportunities that may not have been considered otherwise.
Strategic plans should be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the internal and external environment. Internal factors include changes in the organization’s structure, finances, or personnel; while external factors include changes in the political, economic, or technological landscape.
Being flexible allows organizations to adjust their plans as needed so that they can still achieve their goals despite unexpected changes.
Another best practice for strategic planning is monitoring progress towards the goals of the strategic plan on a regular basis. This involves setting up systems and processes to track progress and measure results. Progress should be monitored at both the organizational level and at the level of individual projects or initiatives.
Monitoring progress helps to ensure that the strategic plan is on track and that any necessary adjustments can be made in a timely manner. It also allows organizations to celebrate successes and learn from failures.
Where to start?
Organizations that implement these four best practices are more likely to create effective strategic plans that lead to desired results. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to strategic planning – what works for one organization may not work for another. The key is to tailor the process to fit the specific needs of the organization and its stakeholders.
WGA’s Strategic Planning services extend across business functions and serve a broad array of industries. WGA covers all critical aspects of your Strategic Planning needs, including design, facilitation, performance improvement, peer review and benchmarking. To learn more about WGA Consulting’s services, contact one of our Practice leaders, request a case study, subscribe to our newsletters, or request more information please complete the form below or call us toll-free at (866) 556-5206.