Strategic Planning: Bane or Boon?

Dilbert_Strategic_Planning

Talk with managers and executives about strategic planning, and you’re likely to get some critical responses:

“That’s just dreaming and consultant-speak. We have work to do.”

“The last time we did a strategic plan, it was outdated by the time it was complete. We had to react to tactical needs and the plan was never used.”

“Strategic planning is a waste of time. It’s better to be adaptable to conditions on the ground.”

“It’s not strategy that drives success, it’s execution.”

It’s no wonder strategic planning has gotten a bad reputation in many organizations. The typical strategic planning process is long, dry, and painful. It forces operationally focused managers to think “big picture” (where they may not be comfortable), and it forces visionary leaders to deal with details and constraints (where they may be uncomfortable). Many strategic plans don’t find traction in implementation, or aren’t flexible enough to adapt to dynamic changes in the business or organization. Rarely are plans and planning processes evaluated after-the-fact to identify what worked, what didn’t, and how the process can be improved to yield better results in the future.

Effective strategic planning blends a variety of elements: envisioning the future, analyzing opportunities and options, addressing practical considerations, and driving consensus to act on the plan. The process should be fast, engaging, and participative. If the organization lacks the expertise to analyze markets, opportunities and options, this must be identified early in the process, and consultants should be engaged to fill these gaps. Strategies shouldn’t be confused with tactics, or with operational plans. The resulting plan must be sufficiently flexible to accommodate change.

Strategic planning engagements are a special case, where INTJenuity often wears multiple hats. The most expensive part of the planning process is your team’s time. During collaborative workshops, it’s important for us to deliver the best facilitated experience available, to enable your team to be most effective. We place great focus on getting as much value out of these workshop sessions as possible.

Outside of the workshops, we are often tapped to wear our consulting hat, to add domain expertise and perform analysis, using our strategic planning frameworks and best practices. Where we lack specific knowledge, we can partner with other consultants to fill these gaps.

A key benefit of our unique workshop methodology is the strength of alignment, consensus, and commitment to action that results. The envisioning, analysis, decision making and action planning activities are facilitated to leave no stone unturned, to surface and address all concerns and risks, and deliver a plan that the team is committed to execute.