Strategic business planning is essential for setting priorities and identifying a roadmap for your business’ future. Unfortunately, many employees see strategic planning as an onerous and useless exercise: Ask employees when they last referenced a strategic plan, or where it is located on their computer network, and you may start to wonder what anyone really took away from the process.
In order for strategic planning to be more effective, consider implementing the following strategies.
1. Enlist more people and diverse perspectives to increase ownership.
While you may be tempted to limit the people involved in the process, increasing their number may lead to better outcomes. The more people involved, the more likely those people will take ownership of the process and the resulting plan. Also, the plan itself may be improved, because people outside of your internal leadership team may bring different perceptions of what is, or is not, working within your organization.
2. “No” can be just as important as “yes.”
Consensus on what your organization will not do is just as important as what your company will do. Make sure to outline what you will not do, and solicit opinions from stakeholders (employees, customers and partners) when answering that question.
3. Ask tough questions.
To foster intense debate and discussions, ask open-ended questions such as:
- “What are the top two or three things that must go right for this strategy to work?”
- “If we pursue this strategy, what are going to be obstacles that we’ll encounter?” and
- “What specific capabilities will we need to develop in order for this plan to succeed?”
4. Do not blindly follow templates.
According to the Harvard Business Review, be careful if you’re following a template for your strategic mission development. Strict adherence to templates can result in “stale ideas, rote responses, and plans that don’t fully capture—or worse, obscure—the key issues and opportunities that a business needs to address.” Eliminate sections that do not fit your organization’s needs, or look for a format that requires you to think deeply about how to grow your business.
Testing strategies are essential to identify gaps and make changes to your plan. Without experimentation, you will never fully understand whether you are meeting your clients’ needs. Consider requiring managers to complete one experiment every quarter.
6. Keep it concise and eliminate empty language.
Empty words and phrases, such as “synergy” or “robust,” are red flags that your plan does not lay out a clear plan for success. Keeping your plan concise forces you to focus on goals and metrics; it is easier to execute the plan and measure successes. For each goal, the plan should identify the problem you are addressing, an intended solution or result, a timeframe and your path to achievement. If there’s anything else in there, ask if it can be cut.
If your strategic business planning does not produce an actionable plan that inspires everyone to work towards a common goal, then call us at (314) 454-9100, or send a message today.
Joel Green is a seasoned attorney working closely with individual and business clients to provide advice and counsel in addressing their legal questions and concerns. Joel is licensed to practice law in Missouri and Illinois and splits his time between AEGIS’ main office, located in Clayton, Missouri, and its office in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Joel joined AEGIS after spending several years practicing at a large, regional law firm, located in St. Louis, Missouri. Joel has significant experience representing individual and business clients in the areas of estate planning, trust and probate administration, fiduciary relationships, real estate transactions and development, landlord / tenant issues, community associations and commercial and residential property management, strategic business planning and counseling, mergers and acquisitions, franchise and distribution relationships, business entity selection and formation, and commercial transactions.
Joel is on the Advisory Board of Directors for the St. Louis Crisis Nursery, and is a Director for the Delta Dental Health Theatre. Additionally, Joel is a member of the school board for Queen of All Saints School and is active in the parish community.