Three Challenges of Strategic Planning
Developing a strategic plan for your business creates many benefits from sharing your vision and attracting funding, to establishing KPIs and getting team alignment. It’s one of the single most important documents a leadership team creates.
A strategic plan doesn’t have to be a long, dry document. In fact, the shorter and simpler the document, the easier it is for everyone to remember and follow. Ideally, you can create a One Page Strategic plan, such as the framework established in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.
Even if your strategic plan can be boiled down to one page, you can’t under-estimate the amount of work that is involved in creating and maintaining this plan. There are three key challenges with mastering the strategic planning process and benefiting from the value it can bring.
1. Preparation and supporting research. Creating a strategic plan takes a lot of work and up front research. Most companies have annual sessions for the leadership team to create or update their strategic plan, but it takes weeks of work to be ready to present and discuss the components. Market research. Competitor assessments. Employee surveys. Financial modelling. Roadmap planning. This all takes time to gather the information, analyze the data and discuss options, all of which needs to be vetted before the planning sessions.
2. Rolling out the plan and getting alignment. Once the company strategic plan is created, the real work begins! The challenge often lies in cascading the plan across departments, teams and individuals. Without buy-in and alignment to the strategic plan, you run the risk of areas of the business being in conflict or heading in different directions. Each department and team should build their own One Page Plan, connected to the company plan but providing more detail and focus to their particular area.
3. Establishing the ongoing rhythms. While most companies are good at the rhythm of annual planning, to maintain momentum throughout the year, additional rhythms need to be used. Additional rhythms help with communicating progress, discussing obstacles and adjusting plans when needed. At the very least there should be quarterly rocks, monthly management meetings and regular stand-ups across the company. This is important for getting team alignment and monitoring progress towards both the longer term vision and shorter term targets.
A strategic plan not only gives the company a direction, but also shows how departments and people contribute to that vision. It should be a living document that is talked about often, results measured against and refined as new data and opportunities emerge. If you’re actively working your plan, it will be easier and quicker to know how you’re progressing and how to adapt and evolve when necessary.
The Verne Harnish One Page Plan is a very user-friendly framework to guide the development of a strategic plan. You can also access many templates and tools from their website to assist with your strategic planning process. It usually takes companies 2-3 years to get the strategic planning processes fully developed, implemented and optimized for your business. It all starts with the first step of communicating the benefits of getting everyone on the same page for the company’s future.
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