Strategic planning is an annual occasion, proper?
It have to be, as a result of based on a current Harvard Enterprise Evaluation article, nearly 9 out of 10 executives stated their corporations developed annual strategic plans. Furthermore, they developed these plans with out consideration for the tempo of change of their enterprise surroundings.
However the actual query is whether or not strategic planning must be an annual occasion. And in immediately’s hyper-fast markets, the reply is a powerful NO!
As market pressures drive corporations to change into extra versatile, responsive, and capable of change on a second’s discover, the power to execute on a technique is quickly changing into extra essential than the technique itself. In truth, enterprise branding knowledgeable Denise Lee Yohn goes as far as to say that in immediately’s surroundings, execution is technique.
In response to Yohn, the quantity of disruption in immediately’s markets (and the pace at which it occurs) requires a really totally different planning strategy. As a substitute of setting a particular technique and following by means of in any respect prices, corporations ought to give attention to “strategically adapting to and excelling at no matter path they discover themselves on.”â¨
With a purpose to succeed with this strategy, Yohn believes corporations should focus extra on having the proper folks and fewer on the proper plan, change strategic planning with strategic decision-making, and nourish a tradition of self-discipline, motion, and outcomes.
She additionally recommends 4 primary methods for immediately’s planning surroundings:
• Preserve it easy (to keep away from getting slowed down with too many options)
• Make your technique about selections moderately than points
• Design your technique round your trade’s predictability and your potential to affect it
• Deal with what you might want to do subsequent
Out With the Outdated
These ideas on strategic planning align carefully with the ideas I take advantage of to create strategic agility with purchasers – the power to maneuver quick with focus and adaptability. Embracing these ideas requires shedding plenty of outdated concepts in regards to the conventional planning course of.
The largest downside with strategic plans, even fantastically crafted ones, is that they by no means unfold precisely as written. Too many inner and exterior components are concerned for any firm to implement their plan with out some extent of change alongside the best way.
However as a substitute of constructing changes in response to altering circumstances, many leaders insist on sticking to the plan as written. They both see the adjustments as non permanent blips to be ridden out. Or, they get too locked into the specifics of the plan and fail to reply appropriately to adjustments in markets, prospects, and world circumstances.
Moreover, many planners nonetheless look too far into the long run to have any reasonable hope of engaging in their plan. “The way in which we have at all times accomplished it” includes wanting three to 5 years out, setting a long-term plan, and sticking to it. In immediately’s markets, nevertheless, projecting too far forward can doom your plan to failure.
Right now’s plans ought to have a a lot shorter time horizon. In addition they must be extra fluid and versatile. You continue to set a goal vacation spot, however one that does not look almost as far into the long run. And you continue to set intermediate targets and motion steps that can assist you attain your vacation spot. However as a substitute of placing the plan up on the shelf to assemble mud, the main focus shifts to monitoring and measuring the plan regularly and making changes in response to altering market circumstances.
The time-honored apply of final 12 months’s numbers and setting this 12 months’s aim three to 5 p.c larger? Neglect about it! As a substitute of specializing in what occurred up to now, set this 12 months’s goal primarily based on the alternatives accessible available in the market. Outline what reaching excellence in a brand new and continuously evolving recreation appears to be like like, and set your targets accordingly.
In With The New
Creating strategic agility begins with altering a lot of your thought bubbles (beliefs, assumptions, and ‘guidelines’) in regards to the strategic planning course of. Then settle for the concept that most of the remaining concepts, beliefs, and assumptions on which you base the plan could effectively change into out of date earlier than you are midway by means of.
To adapt your plan to shifting market realities, mechanically assume that your market is continually altering (it’s!), and monitor it regularly. Then develop a proper course of for managing your technique. Nothing bureaucratic – simply sufficient construction in order that issues get accomplished if you get stretched too skinny with different pressing duties.
Choose a time, ideally as soon as a month however a minimum of as soon as 1 / 4, to evaluation your technique. Determine any adjustments in your surroundings, and evaluation how your technique is unfolding in comparison with the way you thought it might. Make sure to embrace exterior and inner forces (just like the change required of workers, managers, and leaders for brand spanking new initiatives), and make any obligatory changes to your plans.
When monitoring your surroundings, pay shut consideration to uncertainties. For instance, what assumptions are you making about your markets and prospects, and are they nonetheless legitimate? What are your prospects and suppliers unsure about? What are their prospects and suppliers unsure about?
When reviewing your technique implementation, ask: What has modified internally or externally that may alter or undermine our technique? Is our technique working as anticipated? Are we executing successfully? If not, what do we have to refine or change in an effort to get again on monitor?
Lastly, give attention to what must shift and how one can adapt to get to the place you wish to go. As soon as you establish the required course corrections, take motion instantly.
It is exhausting making selections with out having any certainty about what the long run holds. However the world strikes so quick that hesitation may be deadly. And when you fall behind, it may be very tough to catch up.
Right now’s market leaders are quick, agile, and capable of change course with a minimal of disruption. Make the event of strategic agility (execution) a precedence on your group, and watch your opponents battle to meet up with you!
Name to motion: Collect your crew and discover what has modified because you created the plan and what you might want to do about it.