Effective strategic planning helps companies establish organizational alignment and realize sustainable long-term growth. And yet, many planning processes feel mechanical and only engage select senior leaders. As a result, many organizations struggle to define ambitious growth goals or gain the alignment required to successfully action their plan.
We’ve seen several challenges arise when an organization adopts a “status quo” strategic planning process that does not align with its context and realities. Standard approaches often do not meaningfully account for the organization’s size and breadth of stakeholders, historical ability to execute at speed, and risk appetite. Nor do many standard approaches properly consider how market dynamics could change during the planning horizon. This leads to stagnant, poorly bought-into plans that are not adaptive to change or disruption (constants in today’s business world).
A status quo strategic planning approach is especially troublesome for complex multi-stakeholder organizations. Organizations that have historically moved at a slower pace require an approach that considers and embraces their unique needs. Failure to adapt a strategic planning approach and initiatives to an organization’s context results in limited growth, unmet targets, and misaligned expectations.
After talking to clients and critically analyzing standard strategic planning approaches, we identified ten core challenges that many organizations (especially large multi-stakeholder ones) may have with today’s more typical approaches:
Many of these above stated issues stem from rigid processes that fail to build the organizational alignment that’s required for successful planning and execution.
In our work, we have found that a change management orientation to strategic planning enables ‘break out’ strategies by increasing: organizational alignment, broad stakeholder engagement, and the degree of transparency and candor required to identify both high impact opportunities and the ‘sacred cows’ that are impeding growth. This approach prioritizes long-term effectiveness and execution over the speed to getting through the writing process.
In our next article, we’ll further flesh out why we believe a change management orientation is critical to the development of engaging, growth-driving strategic plans, and the principles and tools that enable strong organizational alignment and actionable plans.