Strategic plans are great but not if it sits on the shelf
I recently heard a discussion in the US about gun control and what the founding fathers had intended with the framing of the constitution.
One of the commentators mentioned that the constitution was a living document and had to evolve over time.
I really liked this idea of a living document.
This made me think of the many strategic planning processes I have been involved with both as a manager, leader and facilitator.
At American Express for example, we would spend weeks and weeks on thinking about, discussing and writing our strategic plans.
Once these were approved — I have to admit most of us would never look at it again.
This was a waste of time, energy and thinking.
Now this was some time ago but I wonder if this situation has changed?
So we need to reinvent the strategic planning process to make it more of a living one.
We need in short, to make the strategic plan more of an action – oriented document.
Based on my experience as a Strategic Planning Facilitator here are some suggestions:
– Have the leadership team present to the rest of the organisation the assumptions and output of the strategic planning process and to commit to reviewing the document every month
– Make the output a 1 page document that can be shared with everyone in the organisation.
– Build into the process some key metrics that can be reviewed every month for example.
– The other advantage of this would be that the rest of the team would know if the organisation is winning or not.
– Have a quarterly staff update session with the rest of the organisation.
The strategic planning process is a good one.
It gives managers, leaders and business owners time to reflect on the strategy and direction of the organisation and to build engagement from the rest of the organisation.
But I suspect the process of collaborating, sharing and discussing the future of the organisation is far more important than the actual final document.
Particularly if the plan is never looked at again.