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While I was at our company retreat I had the opportunity to discuss the aspects and benefits of positive constructive conflict and separating the people from the problem to our entire organization I learned from your program. I was approached by numerous coworkers who thanked me for what I said. One in particular said, "thank you for saying that, we need to figure out ways to work together so things do not get out of control."

--Retreat participant


Strategic Planning

Every five years or so well run organizations plan strategically. Strategic planning examines assumptions about the future and the organization's place in it. This deep examination and planning allows leadership to align organizational efforts to maximize resources. Deep examination and the potential for break-through strategies distinguish it from long range planning. There are many ways to conduct strategic planning; the steps below include questions you might ask.

  1. Preparation - Planning for Planning, how will you do this? Ask why you are planning at this time, what are your roles, what is your time frame, what resources are available to you?

  2. Description - What do you currently do, why do you do it, how do you operate, what is your structure, vital statistics, politics, values, purpose, functions? Values are identified in order to verify that actions are in keeping with your values.

  3. Visioning - Based on core values and guiding principles. How do you want to be characterized in the future? What is your current organizational culture or way of doing business, should it change, what is unique, what is the source of energy and commitment?

  4. Forecasting - This step spells out your assumptions about a changing environment. What questions do you need to answer in order to make a good forecast? Spend a lot of time articulating the questions so you can gather data, statistics or interviews, which will be useful to you. If you don't do this, it isn't strategic.

  5. Mission - Who you are, what you do, for whom.

  6. Stakeholders - Who cares about you? What demands do they currently have, and what they will have in the future?

  7. Environment - Without understanding your environment, your plans won't be very useful. Who are your current allies, adversaries, and neutrals? Do you want to change that? Who has the power to help you, who has the interest? What events or circumstances are likely to occur that threaten or present you with unique opportunities? What actions can generate new options or opportunities.

  8. Strategy/Scenario Building - It is useful to determine some best guesses about what will probably happen in the future. These guesses are called scenarios, and more than two should be created and discussed. Your planners should agree on a likely scenario and ask which key result areas will determine and are essential to your success? What long range goals best support your mission and finally, what operational or tactical moves are critical and possible? A tactical issue, for example, is, "what contracts do we sign, and how?" A strategic issue is, "What kind of contracts should we sign, what do we want in them? Do we want contracts or do we want to insource that activity?

  9. Gap Analysis - Given what you want, and where you are, where are the most realistic places to leverage your plan, why? Why? Why? Analysis, looking at it from several angles, and several levels, will give you a better understanding and plan.

  10. Action Plans - Are changes needed? If so, who supports them, who sponsors the change, who rewards the change? How can functional plans of sub-groups be coordinated? What conflicts can be expected and how can they best be managed?

  11. Results Management - This is the so what of the plans. Monthly or quarterly at leadership meetings you should look at reports indicating how you're doing. Do you have contingency plans and feedback plans? Everyone should know somewhere in the organization there is a transition team, moving the organization so it more closely aligns with the strategic plan you have developed. A strategic plan is on-purpose. Your organization doesn't have to be on purpose, but it's tough to get people committed to spending their time and other resources on something that isn't clear, well articulated, and challenging.

© 1998 Reprinted from Adams & Associates Development Letter

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