ARTICLE: Four Best Practices for Strategic Planning
Updated: May 1, 2020
It’s that time again, and many companies I work with are in the midst of their annual strategic planning activities. It’s not unusual for my coaching meetings to be derailed by the need to debrief the frustrations a leader has with one or many pain points along the process (e.g., too much work, not enough big ideas, too financially oriented, too inward focused).
In BCG's “Four Best Practices for Strategic Planning” article (PDF), the authors note that while it is one of the least loved organizational processes, most companies lack an effective strategic planning process. While agility is great, it is more powerful when paired with preparedness. Companies that get the most benefit from strategic planning processes have four things in common:
They explore strategy at distinct time horizons
They constantly reinvent and stimulate the strategic dialogue
They engage the broad organization
They invest in execution and monitoring
A more sustainable solution is to follow the same process year to year, but refresh it with different questions each year. Such an approach breaks the compromise between process efficiency and fresh thinking. Great strategists—and great business leaders—have to learn the art of questioning. Once the right questions are selected, the leadership team can let go, knowing the teams are working on the right issues.
Having a great strategic planning process is only half the challenge. The other half—translating the strategy into results can be even harder, particularly when the new strategy moves outside the core. By emulating the four strategic planning best practices, you can boost the ratio of insight to effort and align the organization around a strategy that is faithfully executed, constantly questioned, and regularly refreshed.