From this week’s articles, I found “The Real Value of Strategic Planning” to be a very pragmatic guide on how to approach a Strategic Planning process. Although in several aspects, some of the points mentioned in the article may sound like “common sense”, from my past experience I agree that many of the mistakes mentioned are actually very common in real life practice.
I will summarize below the key takeaways from the article:
- Strategic Planning meetings should have a reduced number of participants, limiting participation only to decision makers.
- Participants should be fully prepared to participate in the discussion.
- Only strategy should be discussed in these meetings. All other issues should be treated in separate meetings.
- The Head of Strategic Planning should lead and moderate the meeting avoiding deviation from the goals/objective of the meeting.
- The Ultimate Goal should be to prepare Executive Management to be ready to make, at crucial times, decisions that are aligned with the Company’s Strategy. This exercise should be seen as a training of their “minds”.
- Strategic Planning is a process and, as such, should be under continuous evaluation/continual improvement and adapt into a changing environment.
During the course of my career, I was once invited to participate in a Strategic Planning meeting. Based on that experience, I can totally correlate with many of the flaws that the author identified in this article, and in my opinion, the results of the meeting were disappointing.
To get into some of the details, the meeting was not lead or moderated by anyone. There was an agenda but not clear goal for the meeting was identified or communicated to the team. The team invited was very large and many participants were not prepared to contribute meaningfully. Some of the participants were more focused in trying to impress the CEO than to have a profound discussion about the Strategy of their Business Units and Company. The discussion derailed into other issues in multiple occasions. The meeting showed a deep power struggle within many of the BU Heads rather than showing collaboration and team work spirit. At the end of the meeting no clear objective was achieved, and was uncertain on how much the discussions contributed to the Strategy. My impression was that participants left the room confused rather than much better informed about the Strategy of the Company.