Strategic planning process is an integral part of every organization. However, the leadership challenge here is to ensure that strategic planning is considered to be more than just a corporate exercise. Strategic planning facilitates organizations to set priorities, make investment decisions, and identify growth plans. But it does not always give fruitful results due to the inability of insights gathered to be translated into action. Over the past 15 years, Infiniti Research has helped 500+ companies across industries to engage in better planning and decision-making through the right strategic planning methods. Based on our expertise in helping companies in better strategic planning decisions, we reveal some best practices to follow during strategic planning.
Strategic planning best practices
Test the assumptions
Strategic planning mostly involves a hypothesis that certain outcomes would result from a given set of initiatives. These outcomes include increased revenue, improved margins, and higher ROI. But often, rather than including field tests in this assumption, it involves secondary research or educated guesses. Consequently, leaders and decision-makers are unsure whether to move it into actions or commit resources to these strategic plans. In order to avoid this inertia, managers must consider including specific, short-term experiments and its results will communicate what works and what does not.
Avoid unclear language
Strategic plans could often involve empty phrases or misleading language that leave the team unsure as to what needs to be done in order to succeed. To counter this dynamic, it is advisable for managers in the organization to be clear while communicating the strategic plans to team members and avoid the excessive usage of empty phrases and complex business terms while passing on information to subordinates.
Eliminate the use of rigid templates
Templates act as a standard fixture for strategic planning. They mostly force teams to consider key topics including changes in external markets, competitive analysis, and performance gaps that must be addressed. However, this template tyranny could lead the team to be more focused on corporate requirements rather than actually engaging in strategic planning to improve the business outcomes. This can result in outdated ideas, repetitive responses, and do not entirely capture the critical issues and opportunities that need to be addressed. This can be avoided by eliminating sections of the planning template that are obsolete or by even making radical changes to the template.
Encourage proactive discussions
Strategic planning framework should ideally be based on intense debates and discussions. Since the process is rigidly structured with dense data and documentation, the chances of dialogue being constrained are more. This can be overcome by asking relevant questions and encourage discussions when the plan is presented which will eventually enrich the team’s thinking and increase everyone’s confidence level for execution of the plan.