One of the toughest things to coach is how to think long-term when everyone around us is focused on short-term, immediate gratification.
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So how can we develop teams of thought leaders who are thinking and planning decades in the future?
The purpose of strategic planning
The purpose of strategic planning is to set overall goals for your business or organization and then develop plans to achieve them. The most difficult part of strategic planning is to go outside of what we consider is possible now, and imagine what is possible for the future. aiglecomment
Strategic planning requires that leaders step away from day-to-day operations and ask deep questions about where your business is headed.
A strategic plan is not a business plan. A strategic plan focuses on long-term goals and outlines the basic actions for achieving them
Strategic planning is risky business
Making decisions to grow a business means understanding and embracing the risks that come with potential growth. As the business evolves, strategy formulation becomes more sophisticated.
As Peter Stark, author of The Competent Leader, says, “Operations kills strategy.” Strategic planning is thinking about what can be, not what we can do now. When big thinkers pitch their ideas to their teams, the operations people are the first to protest, “We can’t do that.”
While we can’t do it now, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do it in the future.
Three key elements of strategic planning
Developing a strategy for growth requires a deeper understanding about who we serve in the future. What will our customers need and want? How can we meet and exceed their expectations?
Start by asking:
1. Where is our business now?
How are we operating?
What is profitable?
What are our margins?
How do we compare to our competitors?
In the assessment phase it is imperative that we are pragmatic, objective, and realistic.
2. Where do we want to take the organization?
Where do we really want to go?
If we had no constraints, what would we create?
What are our top-level objectives?
Where is our business in 5, 10, or 20 years?
What will we focus on?
What advantage will we have in the future marketplace?
This is a complex discussion that requires time and effort by the senior team.
3. What do we need to do to get there?
Then we need to think about the how.
How are we going to be the organization we want to be?
Who do we need on our team?
What skill sets do we need to develop?What changes will we need to make to achieve our strategic objectives?
What is the best way of implementing these changes?
Will we need to change the structure and financing of the business?
Many executives try to have strategic planning sessions as part of a normal workday, but real strategic planning is tough to do in short bursts.
Successful organizations tend to hold strategic retreats at locations other than the workplace to stimulate creativity and ideas.