Saturday, May 27, 2017

Strategic planning can be worth it after all

The Real Value of Strategic Planning by Kaplan and Beinhocker held a particular interest for me in its redefinition of strategic planning as a tool used to equip people to develop sound strategies in the future through careful advance preparation.  I’ve been with my organization for twelve years and have participated in and led a number of strategic planning exercises.  In many cases, I came away feeling as if it was something I could have done on my own (why didn’t I just write down my goals and send them to the group and save myself hours of time?) or that not much was accomplished. 

Recently, though, as noted on the discussion board, I was asked to establish a new team.  
Simultaneously, I was doing an independent study on leadership which required me to define my values and expectations as a leader.  I seized upon this introspection as an opportunity to set the standard for my new team.  When everyone was hired, I scheduled a full day retreat.  While many team members were inclined to discuss our impending schedule and hoped I would dole out assignments, I opted to take a different path and set all that aside.  At the beginning of the day, I took my time to carefully share my expectations related to values, standards and approach through specific examples and storytelling.  Then we moved into identifying individual strengths and weaknesses on the team and how that might impact us.  I came away feeling that we had actually gotten somewhere.  My team understood where I was coming from, and became better equipped to meet expectations. 
As the article points out, the goal is “to build prepared minds that are capable of making sound strategic decisions.”  While my experience is on a much smaller scale of course than strategic planning for GE Capital, the application remains the same.  Priorities will change and strategies will need to be developed along the way, but there is a way to effectively prepare so that the right decisions can be made nimbly.  In turn, less time is required of me as a manager because my team is able to make decisions knowing which way I would fall on an issue and to identify issues to bring to my attention.

This article reminded me, also, that I also need to employ this approach with my established team.  It’s essential that we come together regularly to reestablish priorities and expectations, and to provide the opportunity for all to share insights and lessons learned.  For this reason, I found the Challenging the Strategy section especially helpful.  Scope, choice and process are areas that need to be revisited on a regular basis.  I look forward to revamping this tool to fit my environment and having discussions with both teams around it.  I feel as if this strategy planning will allow us all to be better prepared for success.

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