10 Steps to Creating a Focused Effective Strategy

A well-defined Strategic Plan sets you on a focused course to demonstrate and increase value. An effective strategic planning process results in a thorough understanding of the organization, the value it brings to the constituents it serves and what leaders most need to focus on.

Does your Strategic Planning Process have all these factors?

1. Utilizes your organization’s Vision, Mission and Values as its foundation.

Doing so helps you to stay true to what’s most important for your organization today and into the future. This may require reviewing, revising or even establishing your organization’s Vision, Mission or Values.

2. Provides focused direction while also being nimble.

Your Strategic Plan must be focused on what’s most important in order to align resources and avoid distraction from the noise. At the same time, you must keep your finger on the pulse and remain nimble enough to shift course if needed.

3. Articulates a strong value proposition.

A value proposition is simply what your organization does better or differently than others and how you will grow and measure this value. What makes you unique? Why should customers come to you? Going through this activity can wake up leaders to the need to up their game or just to be able to get the word out.

4. Ensures alignment of all leaders.

Do you really know what your leaders think are the most important goals or are they giving you lip service in meetings while working on their own side projects? Find out where there is agreement or disagreement early on before friction slows or stops your progress.

5. Has the confidence of leaders and teams.

Understand early on where your leaders have little faith that a particular initiative will succeed. Have them talk to their teams and really listen to the views of those closest to the work. Avoid the desire to simply quiet the naysayers or they may arise later in destructive ways. Raise concerns and address them. They may help you to mitigate risk or identify what needs to be in your change leadership strategy. (Yes, you need one of these.)

6. Builds on leadership and organizational strengths and fills the gaps.

There are instruments that can help you easily assess where your leadership team capabilities match the type of work that needs to be done in your strategic priorities. Find out where the strengths are and where you can stretch people. Rather than force-fitting leaders into roles where they will fail, figure out alternative ways to fill the gaps. Perhaps a next level leader can step up and have a development opportunity. You may need to hire for specific roles such as leading the Data and Analytics initiatives. Or you may need short-term external support or expertise to get started.

7. Teaches you throughout the process.

A strong strategic planning process builds the experience, knowledge and capabilities of the leadership team and Board as they participate in the process. Every strategic planning process I facilitate serves as a learning experience for the leaders of the organization. They face tough questions, question the status quo, interview their clients and engage their people. They end up with a strong Strategic Plan and stronger leaders.

8. Provides positive results while still in the planning process.

A well-designed planning process includes interviewing key customers and influencers to learn about their needs, views of your organization and what’s happening in the external environment. Engaging your people influences your culture, brings you new ideas and starts to bring them on board for change. Leaders will often take action to strengthen a customer relationship, solve a problem or shift people while the plan is still being inked.

9. Is reinforced and achieved through your culture.

Your new strategy may require significant change in your culture. Does it call for greater service, innovation, quality or collaboration? Aligning your culture will be one of the biggest challenges you will have in achieving your strategy. LET ME REPEAT THAT. Aligning your culture will be one of the biggest challenges you will have in achieving your strategy. Assess your cultural strengths early on and include strategies to shift and align your culture in your Strategic Plan and your Implementation plans.

10. Has execution top of mind.

A strategy’s brilliance must come to life through effective execution. Consider not only how you will achieve your goals, but also how you will build organizational capacity in the process. How can you strengthen leaders, shape culture, engage your people, bring the right talent on board, and build high-performing teams that can continue to contribute?

Contact us to learn how we can help you to create or implement your strategic plan and to ensure you have the leadership team and alignment you truly need to execute effectively.

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Written by Diana Rivenburgh

Diana Rivenburgh is the CEO/President of Strategic Imperatives Inc., a strategy, leadership and organizational development consulting firm helping clients to build sustainable, prosperous organizations. Diana consults, speaks and writes on strategy, culture, sustainability, change and the leadership capabilities important for enduring success. Her book, The New Corporate Facts of Life, describes the forces powerfully and irreversibly changing the business landscape and provides examples of how forward-thinking organizations view these as tailwinds propelling them into profitable markets while solving some of the most challenging problems of our time. Contact Diana at drivenburgh@strategic-imperatives.com or by phone at (516) 637-6095, and follow her on Twitter @sustainableorgs.