A strategic plan is a road-map for telling you where you’ve been and where you’re going. It helps deliver focus, clarity and organizational alignment.
Then why do some people use it as something different? We’ve seen organizations enter the planning process with a hidden agenda. Strategic planning becomes a code word for carrying out a different kind of mission. Sometimes it’s to point fingers, lay blame, or back-handedly call out poor performance across individuals, teams, or departments.
Strategic planning is meant to bring an organization together, unite efforts, and rally around the actions required to achieve a vision. It shouldn’t be used as a game of subterfuge.
Every team, every plan, and every organization is different, so each strategic planning session has a unique atmosphere. That atmosphere is quickly coated with a dark cloud if you use the time to solve problems that belong outside of a strategic planning session.
Here are a few quick tips to make sure your planning sessions aren’t derailed by issues that don’t pertain to strategy:
1) Resolve staff conflict before the session – If there is a staff conflict, resolve it before the planning session. Strategic planning is about bringing your team together and that simply won’t be accomplished if your team isn’t getting along.
2) Decide if you really need a planning session – What are you really trying to fix, accomplish, or avoid? If it isn’t strategy, then find another way of dealing with it.
3) Leave baggage at the door – Enter the planning session unbiased, energized, and excited about what you’re trying to accomplish.
4) Set the tone – Strategic planning is difficult, but it doesn’t mean that it needs to be stressful or overwhelming. Keep the air light and the tone cheerful. It will go a long way in keeping your team focused and excited about your plan.
Strategic planning is already a huge undertaking—but a task worth doing. Don’t turn your planning sessions into an environment that impedes progress and negatively affects your organization’s culture by trying to solve issues that ultimately lie beyond strategic planning.
This piece also supports the notion of making elements of strategic planning a regular part of an organization’s yearly activities. You can’t navigate a ship without regularly checking your progress, making improvements and corrections. Same with an organization. Make sure you’re leadership is taking your organization where it needs to go, affirming what works and changing what doesn’t. This regular attention will reduce potential problems, conflicts and energy drains with timely attention.