Recently I was talking with a client about the new company she was working in and her concern that the strategic planning process at her new company was not strategic enough. I concurred with her that all too often “strategic thinking” is all too internally focused, operationally oriented and incrementally slanted.
Are you concerned that your planning is not strategic enough? Here are three indications this may be the case.
- Growth is discussed only in-terms of year-over-year unit growth or price increases. This is exactly the type of discussions you would and should be having for annual business planning, but not in your strategic planning process. It is fine to analyze how your business has evolved over time as part of the strategic assessment of your business, but when you turn your attention to where you are going from here, and someone wants to quantify it in-terms of unit growth or price increases, you are sliding into operational thinking. This sort of transactional thinking is all too often what limits exploration of the broad business discussions necessary for great strategic thinking.
- Competitors, what competitors? There is little discussion of your competitive set, their plans and the influence they are striving to have over the market. A good amount of time should be spent preparing information on the broader market and gather intelligence about your competitors to inform your beliefs about how the market may shift during your next phase of planning. If you have not invested in developing this insight, or worse yet, have invested in it, but are not using it to shape your strategic thinking, you need to stop and retool your process to do so.
- You never discuss what you are going to off-load or eliminate. This is a big one for me personally. Strategic Planning should reveal the aspects of your current offering or operation that will no longer be necessary or will not be smart for you to continue to engage in as you move forward. The omission of the off-loading or eliminating step in your plan development is a big gap in crafting a true strategic plan. It is almost always what boards ask during their review and if you don’t have a board (or leadership committee) to present your thinking to, you need to make sure you do it yourself.
The goal of a strategic planning process is to develop a strategic point of view that leads to significantly new thought for your business plans.
If you are concerned that you too are a part of a strategic planning in name only, I encourage you to speak up and work to get it back on track even if you have to bring in help from the outside to reshape it.
Take our Strategy Ready Test to see how well prepared your team is in leading strategically.