What's in Your Strategy Wallet?
Think about your organization and the strategic vision you are headed toward. Have you ever felt side-tracked? Or maybe you had to slow down and pull over at a stop which wasn't planned? Ever felt frustrated that your leaders, employees, Board members and/or stakeholders do not really understand your strategic pathway? These situations, for the most part, are symptoms caused by the lack of a clear, organized and sequential "Road Map" to keep you and others on track - visually and functionally.
At Strategic Plan Group we foster the use of a visual document called the Strategy (Transformational) Road Map to guide the process, discussion, and decisions which are needed along the way. Each stop requires input into which tools and techniques the organization will use to manage standardization, keep it moving forward and to sustain positive momentum. For example, how are you engaging leadership & workforce members into your vision? What is your practice plan to hardwire your core values? Do you have a communication plan for all of your key stakeholders (internally and externally?) to share strategic results? How are you celebrating success?
Each stop along the road map is an opportunity to identify what you are doing, and how you plan to get it accomplished!
"A picture is worth a thousand words."
What's in Your Strategy Wallet?
1. Initiate Transformational Awareness
2. Engage Leadership & Workplace Members
3. Align Structures & Processes
4. Implement & Coordinate Standardized Activities
5. Measure & Communicate Results
6. Re-assess Strategy Process & Execution on Vision
Many executives and senior teams become frustrated with not being able to focus and spend time on critical strategic initiatives, and instead get "bogged down" in the day-to-day operations of the organization. It is not uncommon that a year or two goes by without addressing this issue, and ultimately frustration impacts performance, team functioning, and board relations/accountability. Additionally, loosing a step in the market place by not elevating the business strategy can put the organization at risk and behind the eight-ball. Here are three actions you can take today:
1. Provide Strategic Plan vs Operational Plan Education:Provide education, on a regular basis, regarding the difference between an "operational plan" and a "strategic plan." Only by having the senior team and the board clearly understand the different characteristics of each can you implement effective management tools to drive strategic success. This type of education is also a must have for new leaders and board members during the organization's onboarding process.
2. Re-Design Your Agenda: "Let the paper do the work" is the adage I like to use. The first item on the senior team meeting agenda and the board agenda should be the "Strategic Plan Achievement Report," using a project accountability log. Also, the same applies to the agenda used for supervisor and supervisee (with a focus on individual responsibility milestones.) Create organizational alignment, consistency and accountability.
3. Implement a Project Accountability Log: Using the right tool(s) for the job in question, is the best option. In this case, the job is for the board and senior team to clearly understand and drive the five process actions, which are generic for every strategic initiative (project plan): When is the project plan due? What is the approval decision after project plan review? When shall the project plan be deployed? When shall we conduct an effectiveness review after deployment? What operational leader/department shall be responsible for the ongoing initiative after effectiveness review (transition from strategy to operations.)
By instituting these effective techniques and tools, leaders can elevate their approach, focus on strategy, and diminish the noise (and distraction) created by operational influences.
Gain Insight: An effective "strategic culture" is a requisite to developing a strategic plan and - just as important - to the execution and success of that plan.
Your organization's success is all about leadership's ability to operationalize 4 key strategic elements (or building blocks.) All the elements must be operationalized and active within the organization for ongoing sustainability and success. How does your organization rate?
S-TAM Elements (System-Think, Act & Manage)
#1 - System Components. Components include the strategic plan; methodology; terminology; road map; role clarity; pledges and communication.
#2 - Think Strategically. Components include reading; networking; vision & mission statements; anticipatory socialization; strategy and customer requirements.
#3 - Act Strategically. Components include role integrity; board, employee and customer involvement; strategy vs operations actions; non-judgmental behaviors; and practicing transformation.
#4 - Manage Proactively. Components include education; project plan method and tools; decision making, deployment and effectiveness review processes; agenda prioritization; and accountability (individual and team.)
It is well known that using a talented facilitator for strategy retreats and sessions provides for enhanced team focus, a more efficient process and effective outcomes. Why is that? Here are the top 7 reasons:
#1 - Objectivity Matters. A facilitator is a neutral partner, whose only mission is to engage the team to drive strategic outcomes.
#2 - Focus On The Process. A facilitator has a longitudinal view of where the team is, and where the team is going in relation to the strategic planning process. Thus making sure that key steps and milestones are achieved.
#3 - Training and Experience is Paramount. A facilitator has training, experience and a talent for activating and engaging team members throughout the process. Effective techniques and tools are used, during each step, such as pre-work assignments, individual and group work activities that produce results and build culture.
#4 - Group Dynamics & 4 T's. Every team has its talents, tendencies, tensions and tailwinds. A facilitator is able to manage the agenda, the personalities and the conversations, fostering the group to work together and execute at a higher level.
#5 - Leaders Can Participate Fully. Supervisors, Board Chairs, CEO's and others can participate at the group level. This reduces the hierarchy in the room and allows the leaders to openly contribute with the team in real time. A powerful process.
#6 - Team Members Can Speak Their Mind. I believe we have all been in a meeting and wanted to share something, yet did not due to a lack of confidence or possible judgement from others. A facilitator can leverage the intellect in the room, and ask direct and/or challenging questions to all members, with no repercussions (fostering non judgmental openness which is critical to strategic thinking.)
#7 - Clear and Concise Action Plans. A facilitator is able to draw from the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and furnish suggestions regarding the strategy methodology, tools, measurements and project plans used. In this case, their is no "turf" to protect, only the desire for a clear and concise plan of action