Steps to Improve Strategic Planning

With the dawning of a New Year comes the planning for what lies ahead.

Often times its operational-level planning. The need to do X, then Y, and all going well we’ll do Z. Its tactical, its getting done what needs to be done.

And at other times we may well dive into the strategic plan and update that. We refresh the vision, make sure the mission is right, and then go about updating our strategic objectives and the related KPI’s.

But there is a whole lot more to the strategy process. For if strategic planning answers the “what will we do” and “how will we do it” questions, where do the following questions come into the picture?

  • what seems to be happening?
  • what’s really happening?
  • what might happen?
  • what might we need to do?

It seems as though these questions should be answered before we start to consider “what will we do” and “how will we do it”.

For ….

“What seems to be happening”? Do you look at trends, or ask subject matter experts for their views on what is happening, or even analyse what your competitors are doing?

“What’s really happening”? Then armed with this trend, market & competitor analysis do you then go one step further and think through all of these moving parts? Answering questions about relationships between all of these variables and causes of change.

“What might happen”? On the basis of this knowledge, do you then open the conversation back up to consider alternate futures? What scenarios could occur based on what is happening?

“What might we need to do”? And as a final step before deciding what to do, there are the reports, presentations and workshops to bring all those involved with the strategic planning together onto the same page

Answering these questions is the domain of strategic foresight. Its called strategic thinking, or futures work.

Its taking the time and effort to look beyond the normal course of events. Its about laying aside “business as usual thinking” and discovering what else might happen. Its about being open to possibilities that you either may not have considered or be comfortable with.

Its about improving your strategic planning to ensure long term success.

Are you open to considering a range of alternate futures?

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