Oct 05 2010

Happy Strategic Planning Month Leaders!

Send to Kindle

There seems to be a month, week, or day for just about everything. I don’t know who determined this, but October is International Strategic Planning Month. I also don’t know why the world needs a strategic planning month but since we have one, I’ll certainly take advantage of it.

Judging by the number of search queries I receive, I know there are a lot of leaders out there who have many questions on the subject so here are a few questions to ask about your strategic plans.

1. Do you need to review or re-write your strategic plan? Here’s a way to find the answer to that question. Ask people in your organization, at all levels, if they can tell you why the organization exists, what it does and how. If they have answers to these questions, ask them how they contribute to making that happen.

2. Do you have goals that are being actively worked? Will accomplishment of those goals move the organization forward or just help it maintain its current position? If the majority of those goals are not far-reaching, it’s time to take another look.

3. Speaking of goals, do senior leaders in the organization know the progress toward reaching those goals? If not, then it’s time to take a serious look because without senior leader attention and follow-up the organization is probably doing exactly nothing towards accomplishing those goals.

4. Did your last strategic planning session last several weeks or even several months? If members of your planning team were ready to poke themselves in the eye just to be excused from the meeting, then you probably need to take another look at the plan. A strategic plan that took more than a week to develop is suspect.

5. Was your last review of the plan a year or more in the past? Goals and objectives should be reviewed at least monthly, but the entire strategic plan should normally be reviewed annually. There are exceptions but this is a good general rule.

6. Is the organization recovering from a serious crisis that has derailed its normal operations? If so, a good strategic plan is just the ticket to get things moving again. But, once recovery is well along, it’s a good idea to review the whole plan as some of its basic tenets may have changed.

7. Are leaders in the organization running about with seemingly no direction? If so, your plan, if one exists at all, is not really being implemented. Before you get out the old plan, dust it off, and direct compliance, put together the leadership team and do a thorough plan review. Then communicate the new plan so everyone knows what it is and their part in making it work.

You may notice that a lot of these questions deal with the people in the organization. Strategic planning accomplishes several things but most importantly it gives everyone a common direction to go and when properly implemented helps them understand their value to the organization. Strategic planning is a leadership responsibility!

Happy Strategic Planning Month!