Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


Fixing the 'not quite strategic' Strategic Plan

Monday 26 May 2014

I was sent a link to a recently released Strategic Plan of a national sporting body and a simple request was identified which was: 'What do you think - is this any good?' Upon reading the Strategic Plan my initial thoughts were 'it's almost good'. But the problem with the almost good is that the parts where it is not good, means the Strategic Plan as offered, is far from strategic. Which has led me to write this offering - How do you fix the 'not quite strategic' Strategic Plan?

I'll take the example of the Strategic Plan I've just read and start by saying that many Strategic Plans suffer from the same problem. The content is fine but the structure is not. There are three challenges with the strategic plan of this national sporting body

A) There's nothing compelling about the Vision because it is a 'forever' Vision

B) There's competing resource focuses and it it not clear if they align for the organisation

C) This one seems to have placed Branding as the main issue for the Strategic Plan

To a larger extent many of these challenges are familiar to me and the work I do consulting to organisations of all types. Indeed anyone who has been through one of our Strategic Planning Workshops will know how much emphasis we place on accountability and on ensuring the Vision you create pulls you forward. Without a compelling Vision, the Strategic Plan will often begin to fray and become an operational plan focused on activities, not outcomes.

In the sense that an organisation creates competing Visions, the challenge created is an inability to work cooperatively across departments - the building of silos inside an organisation. And where one aspect of a Strategic Plan is given equal or higher status than others (of equal or greater importance), all others will give sway to the one aspect given prominence.

So how do you fix the problem?

1) If you don't have a line in the sand as part of your Vision it will drag on forever. It MUST have an end date explicit to achievement

2) Where different parts of the business have different Visions, the operational and managerial imperative is to treat those as MISSIONS for each Department. For that to happen however, there needs to be a singular overarching Vision for all departments to work towards

3) When organisations take a Strategic Issue (some thing that the organisation management has determined is worthy of allocating resources toward) and elevate it above other issues, all other issues wane. In this case, identifying 'Branding' as the core area means that the other items of focus will ultimately give way to it. If that is the deliberate choice of the organisation, that is fine (I suspect it is not in this case). And in your business, if there's a reason to focus on key areas (and there should be), then ensure that it is done in a deliberate way. Making it a conscious choice ensures you do not waste resources chasing after actions that pose no long term value.

In the end, the Strategic Plan I was sent seems to lack the critical 'Capabilities Step' and has (as many do) jumped straight to the actions step. This will be a busy organisation in coming years. But whether it can also be a productive one, is not clear from the not quite strategic, strategic plan I've just read


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