There are countless books, articles and even courses devoted to strategic planning. There are almost as many consultants offering their strategic planning facilitation services. The reaction that I often get from managers is that strategic planning is probably a good thing but they are concerned about how to complete it in a way that is not too costly and that actually brings value. It is my experience that the following are the essential ingredients to completing highly effective and valuable strategic planning process:

  1. The quality and level of engagement of the management team involved
  2. The quality and depth of each manager’s vision for his/her team
  3. The preparation leading up to the strategic planning meetings by EVERYONE involved in the meetings
  4. A clear agenda for the meetings that all participants have had input into and are aware of ahead of time
  5. The setting in which the meetings are held and the time devoted to the meetings
  6. The level of granularity of the planning dealt with at the meetings (this can work both ways – they can be too granular or not granular enough)
  7. The role played and example set by the CEO
  8. Proper assessment of what resources are needed and the probability of being able to acquire them in order for the plan to have a realistic chance of being carried out
  9. A documented plan as to who is responsible for completing the write-up of the tactical plans generated by the strategic plan and the timing of completion of these plans
  10. The time frame contemplated by the plan (e.g. I favour three-year plans)
  11. Once the meetings are completed, confirmation that all participants have the same understanding of and commitment to the plan
  12. The frequency of the planning sessions. My preference is once every three years unless factors change significantly such that the plan should be revisited. Further, the planning meetings should be conducted at a time in the year that segues into the budgeting process for the next fiscal year.

You may have noticed that I did not include the use of facilitator in the above list. Facilitators can bring great value to the process depending upon the self-sufficiency of the participants and what the organization can afford.

The next articles will discuss the use of a facilitator and each of the above components in more detail.

Should you have any questions or feedback regarding the content of this article please email me.

By Terry Thompson, Surrey, BC, CYBF mentor,

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