Strategic Planning for Your Organization: What Is It and Why You Want It
by Jason Fitch, Lead Self Lead Others Certified Leadership and Strategic Planning Coach
Your organization does important work. No, your organization does vital work. Think of the people you and your organization serve. Now, imagine how those people would be negatively affected if your organization ceased to exist tomorrow. Of course, this would never happen, right? Well, you hope not, but hoping is not a strategy, nor will it take you to places you need to go in order to serve those people who are relying on you.
I’ll make a bold statement. Success is not necessarily indicative of health. So, what if you’re turning a profit or if you’re servicing more people this quarter than last? The real questions is not, “What is happening?”, it’s “Why is it happening?” The answer to that question, and so many other vital questions, comes when you walk through a disciplined, strategic planning process. In this article, I’ll give you an overview of the thirteen core principles of strategic planning and tell you exactly why they are important to you. In the coming months, I’ll unpack each of the thirteen principles in detail for you.
A brief overview of the 13 core principles of strategic planning:
- Perspective before planning. Success, in and of itself, is not necessarily indicative of health. Even if your organizations is effective, you must know why. Would you rather have the view from the valley or the mountain-top? You must find the truth before it finds you. To do so, you can use a variety of tools to face current and future truths.
- Seek Truth. There are two types of truth you must seek — current and emerging. You must face crucial and sometimes difficult conversations. It’s not easy, but you can do it. And, you always keep in mind that you’re attacking principles, not people.
- The team develops the plan. Collective wisdom is better wisdom. Everyone contributes. In the strategic planning process, you need owners, not advocates.
- Facilitated vs. Prescribed. I bring the process, you bring the content. If you hire a strategic planning consultant who wants to tell you how to run your organizations, fire them immediately. You and your team already have the answers. You just need someone with the expertise to draw those answers out for you.
- Seek breakthrough. Horizontal vs. vertical. Vertical alignment is when the decisions and strategy are set from the top and everyone below is expected to fall in line. However, horizontal alignment is when strategies are set collectively by multiple representatives with the whole organization in mind. Vertical alignment sucks energy from an organization, while horizontal creates synergy among departments and staff members.
- Planning. You must develop an architecture of success; a unified master plan based on the organizational distinctives and goals.
- Action. Unified implementation of the core plan through action initiative teams working to accomplish milestones and goals is the way to get it done.
- Structure. Form follows function. Structure follows the substance of the plan. You’ll have to develop a structure for executing the unified plan through appropriate and timely decision-making.
- Management. If you plan your work and work your plan, your plan will work. Effective management means managing the whole. Strategic, operational, and financial.
- Control. You manage the plan through strategic control panels which are an integral part of the plan management process.
- Learning. You will continuously improve through elimination of everything which does not add value and stoking the fires of those pieces that do. No more sideways energy.
- Renewal. Change is inevitable. Your management system must help renew and adapt to change consistently.
- New organizational discipline. Perspective, Plan, Execute, Renew. It’s a process and you can trust this process.
So, why is this important to you and your organization? Simple. Because those people we talked about above are waiting for you to bring the clarity, unity, focus, and energy to the organization you lead; and they believe in. You deserve this and so do they.