In my experience, annual strategic planning sessions can come off as antiquated technique from the era of less dynamic business. Time and time again, individuals proclaim that in the modern day, the speed at which business needs to pivot and re-pivot is more than once per year. Furthermore, prepending the gathering with “annual” gives credence to the point that the process is outdated. Reconciling that with the perspectives of Kaplan and Beinhocker (KB) from “The Real Value of Strategic Planning” requires that one redefine the intent of the annual planning process. The goal of the meeting is not to emerge with a rigid and inflexible plan that executives are married to. Instead, it is for management to emerge from the meeting with a consistent set of baseline knowledge such that they can react to the inevitable shifts in the market place.
Roadmaps, budgets, and other outputs that result from the process should be seen living versus fixed. The manner in which the meetings are conducted – be they direct, indirect, or some other cultural adaptation is fine provided that the outputs align with the goals of the session. Coalescing the work of RB with the views of Reeves, Love, and Tillmanns (RLT) in “Your Strategy Needs a Strategy,” one can recognize the suitability of fit-for-culture (from RB) and fit-for-style (RLT) strategy. RLT outline 4 major strategies that have certain flairs and can be used as input when determining the periodicity of follow-ups to the annual strategic planning session and the nature of the outputs (i.e., from just surviving through impacting the business environment).
In my opinion, addressing the deficiencies is a matter of communications and coaching. It is important for individuals to know what to expect and how to contribute to planning sessions. Additionally, the audience and facilitators should be well-versed in the cultural and stylistic preferences of both the company and industry (respectively). After adopting the perspectives from RB, RLT, and others, it is easy for one to better appreciate the value that strategic planning offers.
References:The Real Value of Strategic Planning - MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter 2003
Your Strategy Needs a Strategy – Martin Reeves, Claire Love, Philipp Tillmanns, September 2012