Ten essential truths I have learned about strategic planning I have learned much in all my years leading strategic planning in organizations and consulting on planning with organizational leaders. Here are ten nuggets I think are very important!
The written plan and the plan format are not what it is all about.
The essence of effective stategic planning is finding and executing strategies that move the organization to a better, desired future.
Planning is not an event, it is a recurring process.
Planning is best led by an outside facilitator. He or she comes unbiased by the organization's prior commitments and culture, and can see things in the organization and in the environment that insiders will be blind to or overly discount.
The organizational leader (or his or her surrogate) is the wrong person to lead the planning process. When he or she appears to have it right, things seem great,even though the organization could be seriously sub-maximizing. When he or she has it wrong, the results can be devastating.
Without measurement and assessment and replanning, a strategic planning exercise is a waste.
Don't look for an outside strategic planning expert to come in and tell you what to do, meaning what strategies to pursue. Look for the outside expert for process and process leadership, accountability, outcomes assessment and follow-up.
The people in the organization need to find the vision, and provide, commit to and execute the strategies. With planning leadership and process help, they can ferret out what to do.
Having many strategies is a mistake. Organizations need sharp focus on a few strategies over time if change is to be achieved. It's the strategic planning facilitator's job to help the organization recognize that handful of winning, highly effective strategies and to park or discard any others.
Organizational leaders must be committed to the strategic planning process for it to succeed over time. For the strategic planning process to work, the organization will inevitably need to change in fundamental ways. Only the leaders can bring the other people in the organization on board and make this happen.