As the Cheshire Cat said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Such is the case with an organization or practice that does not have a strategic direction or plan. Any business needs a plan, a roadmap, a direction, however you want to describe it. A strategic plan will enable you to see where your business is going over a timeframe that you construct, how it will be able to meet its goals and how to measure the level of success from your efforts.
There is no one right way to model a strategic plan, just like there is no one right way to implement one. There are many factors involved, such as the organization’s market position, its leadership, structure, size and culture.
To ensure alignment of priorities and goals, the strategic plan should be very clear on what is important and consistent with the values and vision of the business. This is critical as senior management often has disparate views on what should be the focus – some will be more analytical and some more creative in their thinking. Allow for diversity of thought.
As important as the finished product is the process employed must be manageable, time efficient and cover relevant areas. The approach has to be logical and “rules of the road” need to be articulated. Most of all, everyone involved needs to have input in the process in order for the plan to be “sold.” If it is not saleable, practical or doable, up on the bookshelf it goes to collect dust, or maybe tossed onto the junk pile of prior efforts.
You need to align the solutions to the strategy; have a successful project built; create a campaign or strategy with alignment to measurable outcomes; and define and deliver a communications plan to support the work. You’ll be glad you did.
Finally, do you have time to get it started, involve the right people, and see it through?
Many organizations have hard-working people putting their best efforts into areas that have little to no effect on strategic success. Their activities aren’t aligned with the priorities. Your strategy serves as the vehicle for answering the question, “How can we better align all our resources to maximize our strategic success?”
Fresh thinking requires an unbiased view that you can get from an outside facilitator, especially if you never conducted a strategic planning session. There could be a wide range of ideas or concerns about the issues that will have to be addressed in the plan. An outside facilitator will reduce the hesitation to participate because the facilitator has no built-in biases that prevent the attendees from being candid.
There has to be a coordination between the facilitator and the firm’s management. If the goals are not in sync, then a problem arises, but because it early in the process, embrace the opportunity to create an environment that invites collaboration and consensus. The plan should be the underpinning of your organization’s activities to ensure alignment. Take the necessary time to develop a plan that reflects the organization’s values, think long term and build in flexibility in the event of the unforeseen.