Strategy Planning Process

There are many pitfalls on the path to developing a strategic plan. The September 2011 edition of our newsletter describes several blunders business leaders make when developing strategic plans.

An effective strategic plan can be developed by using a process built around three key meetings:

Meeting 1 (2 hours)--Kicks off the process
Process participants attend, learn what will happen, learn what their roles will be, define "homework" assignments, and identify issues with the process that need to be resolved.

The process can be initiated through a conversation between the chief executive involved and the process facilitator. The management team can be informed via email, phone, or one-on-one talks about the process, their roles, and the homework assignments.

Precede Meeting 2 with developing key information on the current competitive situation, a description of the current mission and vision, identification of key issues blocking progress, a description of the current strategy, and an assessment of the effectiveness of the current strategy.

Meeting 2 (2-3 days)
Assess situation; set a vision for the company; select the strategy to achieve the vision. It is often better to hold this meeting away from the office (avoids distractions), but if necessary, the office will do.

Meeting 3 (1 day)
Confirm the viability of the strategy chosen; set implementation plans.

This three-meeting approach is effective for a business focused on a single line of products, a division of a larger company, or a departmental function.

With minor modifications, the approach works also for a larger, more complex organization. The first two steps would be done at the top level of the organization. Then all organizational units below the top level would carry out the first two steps, followed by review with top management; then revision. Finally, the third step would be done at all levels.

In a larger organization, the entire process should take no more than 2-3 months. The resulting strategies should provide good guidance for at least 2-3 years, with minor adjustments every six months.

Sometimes it is useful to include an additional meeting after Meeting 1 to review results of the situation assessment and identify additional information that should be developed before Meeting 2.

Include in the strategy development process people who have valuable insights about the business and people who are critical to the success of the strategy implementation.

The actual process used in any company should be tailored to that company's specific circumstances.

The Key to Success

What is the key to success with the strategic planning process? Great, highly effective meetings—a result produced by proper design and facilitation of the meetings.

Without good preparation, careful meeting design, and skilled meeting facilitation, the meetings will be mediocre. Business leaders will then get a weak strategic plan, one that continues the status quo. Even worse, the strategic plan will be implemented poorly and incompletely.

Please see our Strategy Meetings page on how to design and facilitate successful meetings.

See our Services page for examples showing how we support good strategy development.

For further information, please contact us by calling 323-933-8500 or emailing Lynn Davidson at

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