To achieve optimum results, every group or organization needs to engage in some form of strategic planning. But strategic planning is more than setting goals and the action steps to achieve them. Richard Koch in his book “Smart Strategy” (p. 2) defines strategy as, “the pattern of decisions that intentionally or otherwise sets the long term direction of the company and determines its fate”. (Koch acknowledges his definition equally applies to any organization, unit or team.) Therefore strategic planning intentionally addresses key issues re identity, purpose, context, values, direction, resources, goals, contingencies and actions.
In this article I’ll outline a generic roadmap that any group or organization can follow or adapt for those intentional decisions that pave the way to success, by considering five essential questions.
1. Who Are We and Why Are We Here?
- Foundational Mission – why we exist, i.e. how the wider community/world is better because of who we are and what we do
- Talents, Passions & Callings – the abilities and motivations that drive our leaders and members
- Resources – the condition and capacity of our people, finances, property, IT and other resources
- Cultural Factors – the historical, cultural, philosophical and spiritual dimensions of our identity
These two questions are so inter-connected that they need to be considered together. Essentially both address the issue of identity. They concern both current reality as well as the original reason and purpose for establishing the group, organization or business. Included here is getting clarity around recognising:
2. Where and Whom Do We Serve?
- What’s the scope and demographic profile of our current client/customer base?
- Who are potential future clients/customers we’re not currently serving?
- How can our service/product positively address the issues and needs they face?
- What are the current and probable future contextual opportunities and issues that potentially impact our mission (economic, political, environmental, IT, social, spiritual)?
- In light of above 4 points, what and where are our potential customer/client groups?
3. What Matters Most to Us?
- What are the non-negotiable 3-7 basic beliefs (worldview, market/service philosophy and history) that drive our organizational behaviour?
- What are the 3-7 core values that emerge from our basic beliefs, form the heart of our culture and generate passion, motivation and a sense of direction?
4. Where Are We Going?
- As the key leadership team reflects on the above 3 points, what clarity regarding future direction is emerging?
- How does that direction express the organization’s foundational mission, basic beliefs, core values and potentially impact our current and potential client/customer base?
- How can that sense of direction be expressed as a motivational vision – a picture of a preferred future for the next 5-10 years that motivates and inspires members as well as current and future clients? (If the vision statement is more than 1 sentence, it’s advisable to capture its essence in a slogan of 8 words or less and/or an image.)
5. What Will We then Do?
- What systems, teams and resources need and to be developed and put in place to fulfil this vision, and in what timeframe?
- What strategic SMART goals (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-framed) need to be developed for each system, team and resource?
- What probable scenarios might emerge over the next 5-10 years and how could they impact the goals? (Consider potential social, spiritual, technological, environmental, economic and political changes – see #2 – 4th dot point.)
- In light of current and perceived short-medium term future reality, what priority qualitative, goal for the next 3-12 months does the organization overall need to focus on. (Patrick Lencioni in his book, “The Advantage”, calls this the ‘Thematic Goal’ or ‘Rallying Cry’ together with its ‘Defining Objectives’.)
- What relevant action steps need to be taken – by whom and by when?
- What authorisations need to be delegated and to whom to enable organizational agility? How to ensure decisions are in line with our mission, beliefs, values and vision?
- What overall, strategic monitoring/evaluation processes need to be put in place?
Conclusion – Clarity, Commitment Communication
Essentially, strategic planning is about establishing Clarity, Commitment and Communication.
- Clarity – for the executive team and key leaders about why the organization does what it does that provides benefit for those in the wider world; i.e. its foundational mission or purpose. Plus clarity around the beliefs, values, vision, goals and actions that drive organizational behaviour. And also clarity about the nature of the organization’s business – the products and services it provides to the world.
- Commitment – of the executive team and key leaders to that clarity and to one another in achieving those desired results. This includes members of the executive being fully engaged in priotitising that team, and not their individual departments, as their primary group.
- Communication – ensuring systems and process are effectively in place to communicate that clarity throughout the organization, its market base and the wider world so that effective decisions are made and resultant actions taken that express that clarity.
If you feel an initial, free, no obligation conversation with myself or another member of our team could help your organization please get in touch.