Propel Forward LLC Announces Four Tips to Optimize Strategic Planning

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Strategic planning ensures time and resources are spent bringing the company closer to it’s vision. If company leaders cringe anytime strategic planning is mentioned, chances are it is being done ineffectively. Propel Forward LLC shares some common traps that can snare executive teams.

Business-Consulting, Management-Coaching
If company leaders cringe anytime strategic planning is mentioned, chances are it is being done ineffectively

Strategic planning's purpose is to create a clear roadmap for the company to reach it’s vision. If company leaders cringe anytime strategic planning is mentioned, chances are it is being done ineffectively. Here are common traps that can snare executive teams.

1. Not Conducting a Full SWOTTA Analysis: Many companies know to do an analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) related to reaching their desired vision but many companies leave out the Trends and Assumptions. Take time to add these into the analysis. Ask, “What trends are happening today that could affect our business?” This ensures the strategies will be aligned to future needs rather than staying grounded in the present. Then have the team review their SWOT information and ask, “What assumptions are we making about our business and the future?” List these and then identify the percentage of certainty the team has that each assumption is valid for the future. Often companies are still working on assumptions left over from their corporate histories that are no longer accurate. For example, past downsizing often results in leaders still hanging on to scarcity behaviors when the company is now in growth mode. This can produce growth strategies that are not as aggressive as they need to be.

2. Tying Actions to Guiding Principles Versus Strategies: I’ve seen several well meaning companies link actions to guiding principles such as, “We make it easy for customers to do business with us.” This creates work focused on the way the company wants to get the work done rather than pinpointing the actions central to reaching the vision. Strategies should come from the SWOTTA analysis work. Strategies are born from asking the right questions. For example:
What strengths can be leveraged to overcome the key weaknesses blocking the company from realizing its vision?
What opportunities capitalize on the company’s key strengths and provide a competitive edge to reaching the vision?

3. Missing Measures of Success: Another common omission is not attaching key measures of success to strategies. Without these the executive team and employees won’t know what will drive successful completion of the strategy. Is it completion by a certain time, a measurable increase in quality, reduction in product cost, reduction in risk? Setting the right measures will help clarify the actions that need to be tied to the strategies.

4. Forgetting to Ask “So What?”: To make certain the company has the right strategies in place ask,” What purpose does this strategy serve?” If the strategy can’t be linked directly back to the vision, it is most likely a nice to do rather than a need to do. Too many times well meaning strategy sessions end up creating unnecessary project work. This over burdens employees who are already strapped running the company’s essential functions.

One of the best gifts executives can give their employees is ensuring time and resources are spent on actions that bring the company closer to its vision. Employees want to be part of a winning team. A clear compelling vision defines winning. Therefore strategies that gets the team closer to that vision increase engagement and provide milestones to celebrate.

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Carlann Fergusson
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