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STRATEGIC PLAN - Major Steps, Conducting The Planning Process

By spending the time up front to plan for the participation of other individuals in the strategic planning process (who, how, and when), the firm will not only enhance the likelihood of successful planning and subsequent implementation, but will also lay solid groundwork for a process that will continue long after the initial strategic plan has been developed.

The most effective way to institutionalize the process is to directly build institutionalization into the detailed work plan. Important elements include:

  • timing and type of participation by non-planning group members
  • communication of planning process objectives, and progress to non-planning members
  • solicitation of comments and suggestions from those not directly involved in the strategic planning process

By the third meeting, the administrative and orientation activities have been completed, and the group members are ready to begin work. By plunging directly into the assessment of the company's current position, the group members will quickly develop a sense of:

  • the volume of work and the amount of time involved in the strategic planning process
  • the significant differences of opinion among the group members concerning the firm's current mission, goals, strategy, and operating and financial performance
  • the immense difficulties to be encountered in trying to develop consensus on where the company should go and how it should get there.

 

 

A facilitator can make or break the success of a strategic planning process. A facilitator will not guarantee the success of a plan, but it is likely that without one, the full creative potential in the room won't be tapped. Strategic planning discussions can be difficult because of a number of factors that include:

  • Personal values
  • Deeply held beliefs about the organization and where it's going
  • Different perspectives on the marketplace
  • Conflicting goals
  • Complexities among people who have been working together for some time
  • Behavior patterns
  • Knowledge about how the firm has done business in the past
  • Some people may perceive that their careers will depend on how they relate during the process


Unless differences are dealt with carefully and openly, they can result in disagreement that will ultimately undermine the strategic plan. A facilitator can look at the organization, the leadership team, and the planning process objectively. Trained in how to keep a discussion on track while taking everyone's concerns into consideration, an experienced facilitator can help participants leave with a feeling of stronger cohesiveness, accomplishment, and excitement about their role on the team.


Often what happens is that the discussions quickly break down into operational issues and gets stuck in detail as opposed to staying focused on the big picture. Participants fall into common patterns and aren't sure how to look for new perspectives. Meetings get off track and often don't produce action items or a way to assure the planned actions really take place.

 

An objective facilitator brings perspective, experience and the skills to:

  • Keep the group focused
  • Ask probing questions
  • Encourage full participation
  • Balance personalities
  • Promote mutual understanding
  • Foster inclusive actions
  • Teach the group new thinking skills
  • Advance the personal learning of each group member
  • Enable groups to tap their collective wisdom,
  • Help create sound, intelligent, sustainable agreements

 

 

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