Simple and Smart – Strategic Planning That Won’t Bring You Down
18 August 2016 at 10:13 am
An organisation must live with the results of its strategic planning for years to come so what can be done to ensure it doesn’t fall short, writes Tam Johnston from Variety NSW who will be a guest speaker at an upcoming strategic leadership conference in Melbourne in October.
Johnston will be presenting Approaches for Designing & Implementing Effective Business Strategy at the Not-for-Profit Leadership & Sustainability conference. Here she offers some pre-conference learnings.
I think we all have a bad strategic planning story to tell. The time it went on for months but never came to a clear resolution. The time that left us feeling like we had been sucked into the vortex of corporate doublespeak. The time that made you, as a leader in your organisation feel disempowered. Oh, and that time the process was great but the plan has been gathering dust ever since.
Strategic planning is important. Really important! It’s your chance to check in on who you are as an organisation and where you’re going. It should be creative, pragmatic, focused and energising. As a leader, it couldn’t be more critical. You will live with the results of strategic planning for years to come.
So why does it so often seem to fall short and what can we do about it? Here are a few things I’ve learned – from the great experiences and from the not so great ones – that might help you along the way.
- Aim for the right plan, not the perfect plan
They say that the perfect is the enemy of the good. When it comes to business planning, if we get too caught up in trying to create the perfect plan, or one that meets all the textbook criteria, we’ll plan right through this three year cycle and into the next. You need a good, solid plan that provides a clear and sensible road map for your business. Your aim here is not to win awards – it’s to build and grow your organisation. Be brave enough to say “good enough”.
- Aim to create the right plan for your organisation
There are plenty of template plans, examples of good solid approaches, and many consultants with a cookie cutter approach trying to make you fit their mould. All these things can help give you guidance and ideas, but at the end of the day, you know what you’re trying to achieve and the culture of your organisation better than most – use that to your advantage. Be prepared to leave out elements that you don’t believe will work for your team – and add in something unconventional here and there where you think it’s necessary.
- Find an ally
Yes, I know what I said about cookie cutters, but a great consultant can be your best ally in developing your plan. They can ask the tough questions, focus the conversation and, most importantly, allow you to participate fully in the cut and thrust of dreaming up a shared future with your board and team. Find someone you trust to work with you, who will bring their expertise to help develop your story… not try to fit you to their own narrative.
- When you think you’re finished… remove something from the plan
Many plans fail because they are too complex, too fulsome and too wordy to provide a clear point of reference for the future. Be disciplined enough to have a tight framework that focuses on the big picture, and save the details for your operational planning.
Tam Johnston, chief executive officer, Variety – The Children’s Charity, NSW will be speaking on Approaches for Designing & Implementing Effective Business Strategy at the Not-for-Profit Leadership & Sustainability conference this October.
Book your place by 26 August to save on ticket prices. View conference brochure here.
Contact Criterion Conferences for more information and special offers on 1300 316 882 or firstname.lastname@example.org