With the US Presidential Campaigns in full swing, we watch with interest each candidate’s strategic positioning and planning. Over the upcoming weeks each candidate’s campaign strategy and plan deployment will be tested by voters. How each candidate develops their campaigns and deploys their strategies will ultimately make the difference between success and failure. The same applies in the business world.
1. Rally the Troops with a Compelling Vision and Mission
Just as political candidates vying for leadership must offer a compelling message to citizens to support their vision of the future, the strategic planning process must start by identifying your organization’s vision and mission (and values). This is because when the organization has a meaningful, reflective statement of its vision and mission, then it provides a compelling guide that leads everyone towards the common goal. Alternatively, when planning is done without cohesive and purposeful intent it is unlikely to achieve its desired outcome.
2. Make Sure that Organizational Goals and Objectives Align with Vision and Mission
Ultimately, organizational goals and objectives must align with the organization’s vision and mission if planning is to be successful because the organization’s efforts are unified and consistently delivered. Leaders that fail to link and cross reference goals with vision and mission will find it difficult to get support over time.
3. Clearly Define the Organization’s Operating Environment
Great leaders are in touch with what’s going on around them and have a realistic and sound understanding of the environment in which they work. They understand all aspects of their organization’s environment and subsequently are clear about their current competitive position in the marketplace. This includes a clear understanding of their customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders as well as other influences on their business. By defining the operating environment they are also able to benchmark their performance and later assess their organization’s progress over time.
4. Include All Staff Levels in the Planning Process
Leaders benefit greatly by seeking input from the people they lead because they learn more about the challenges facing the organization and are able to build collaboration and enhanced commitment from their people. Planning is most effective when staff is engaged in the process because this generates additional input and helps build their commitment to the end plan. Each department’s contribution is necessary to build an effective strategic plan and should consider:
- What are our performance strengths & weaknesses?
- What other strengths & weaknesses do we have?
- What strategies do we see as necessary to bridge this gap?
- What do we think are the organization’s current goals, structure & ways of operating?
- What are the emergent opportunities and threats bearing on the organization from various environmental sectors? (i.e.; from customer feedback, knowledge of present market, staff feedback)
- What are we doing to address these opportunities and threats? (We are not looking for blame (i.e., the economy). Rather, we need to ask ourselves, “How are we working around the real issue of the economy? “
5. Prioritize Strategy Deployment
A political campaign that fails to deploy effectively is usually unsuccessful. Similarly, once the strategic plan is together, it is critical to prioritize your strategies and prepare action plans accordingly. Too often strategic plans collect dust on a shelf and are forgotten once the planning exercise is completed. This is usually because management does not prioritize strategy deployment. Only when strategy is prioritized can action be efficiently funneled towards effective deployment. Without prioritization, there is uncertainty as to in what order projects need to be implemented to achieve the strategic plan, which results in a lack of direction. This situation creates significant inefficiency and waste for the organization and may also result in reduced staff morale.
6. Translate Strategic Priorities into an Operational Effectiveness Plan
The missing element that often prevents the successful deployment of the strategic plan is the lack of a detailed plan that coordinates multiple resources within time and cost restraints. An Operational Effectiveness Plan translates each strategy into a detailed project action plan with clear objectives and performance measures. The action plan will include clear direction as to who will do it, what will they do, when will they do it, what resources are required and what costs are required.
7. Apply Project Management to Implement It!
Sound project management processes will significantly increase the implementation success rate of your strategic plan. This is because project management methodology involves coordination of resources (people and materials) to achieve a unique, common and agreed goal. Project Management Methodology develops a plan to resolve problems before it is too late or they get out of control. As well, it provides people with a straightforward way to get together to work out what is wanted, how to do it, and who is to do what. Processes for all aspects of getting the project implemented are coordinated and tracked with a project management methodology and the outcome for the organization is proven savings in both time and money.