The more I facilitate strategic planning meetings, the more I recognise the challenges that business leaders face wanting to create change and a develop a new future for your organisation. You may understand the importance of strategic planning, but does the rest of your leadership team?
If you’re talking to someone who has never done strategic planning before it may seem like a make-work exercise with limited benefits.
I have found that it’s really easy for people to be “DOERS”; they are often focused on being busy, moving quickly and perhaps not taking the time to look out into the bigger picture to ensure that they are doing the best things to move the organisation forward. While it is important to move forward on tasks and projects, it is also essential for the entire team to be aligned on the organisational direction.
Creating a strategic plan and thinking strategically is not about doing more. Instead it is about focusing on how you spend your time so that you are more effective in reaching your goals and getting to where you want to go.
Here are 7 further benefits of having the meeting:
You’ll create a clear vision for what success looks like in the future. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?
You’ll identify priorities for the short and medium term. You can’t do everything at the same time – let’s focus on what needs to be done now, and then do it well.
You’ll get alignment and buy-in around direction and strategy. Having these conversations will move your team from implicitly being on the same page to explicitly being on the same page; the clarity will energise the whole team.
4 Identify Challenges
You’ll create an opportunity to talk about key issues facing the business (competition, changing trends, etc.). You want to ride the waves, not get smashed by them. Being reactive throws off your plans, and takes your eye off your goals.
You’ll create a clear roadmap for the rest of the organisation. Your people want to know where the business is going and how they can contribute. An engaged staff is 20% more productive than one that is neutral (or, worse, dis-engaged). Your people want to win – this is how you can help them.
6 Open Communication
You’ll create space for people to share what’s going on with them and what they want to see as the future of the organisation. It will open lines of communication and improve teamwork.
You’ll empower others (above and below you) to take on tasks that will move the organisation forward. As a senior leader that means less firefighting and more focusing on what you do best: leading and executing. Strategic planning doesn’t need to take a lot of time either. Start with a one or two day meeting offsite to set the foundation, and review your plan quarterly. The focus and the results will speak for themselves.