4 smart tips for preventing strategic planning setbacks.

4 smart tips for preventing strategic planning setbacks.

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Against the backdrop of an economy that seems to be in perpetual motion, the story of many businesses today might best be characterized within the genre of the Bildungsroman. All the telltale signs — great hope, sudden reversals, events that proceed counter to plan — are there. Fundamentally, these are stories of growth and development in the face of obstacles. 

Yet when it comes to strategic planning, that thoughtful space where growth and development get charted out like plot points, too many organizations behave like hapless minor characters, unable or unwilling to change the hands of fate.

But it's time to take back control of the narrative, and the following common four strategic planning pitfalls are a case in point. We’ll break these problems down one by one — then show you how to fix them.

train people
problem:
training is threadbare (or nonexistent).

One often overlooked, yet absolutely critical, component of strategic planning initiatives is that they imply change. Your business has a goal or objective that it isn't currently meeting. How are you going to get there? The answer is: by changing. Changing how you operate. Changing who owns what process. Changing the ways that success gets benchmarked and measured.

But change doesn't happen overnight. It requires the discipline to commit to new behaviors — and reinforcing them is where training comes into play. 

train people
solution:
create a balanced training program.

The key to any effective training program in support of organizational change is that it harmonizes two disparate, and in many ways competing, needs. On the one hand, there’s the need for training that's robust, comprehensive and customizable to suit individual needs. On the other, there’s the need for training programs to be sufficiently universal — or "one size fits all" — in order to be applied at scale. 

So getting that balance right should be a big focus area when creating training programs in support of organizational change. Do that and you'll be able to not only strategically plan more effectively, but bring more of your business goals to life as well.

allocation
problem:
adequate resources haven't been allocated.

A good idea — no matter how good it may be — won't get you very far unless it's backed up by the requisite financial resources to actually make it happen. 

So if you don’t have the resources you need to succeed, what can you do about it? 

train people
solution:
use tools that ensure resources are optimally allocated across the organizations.

The latest resource allocation software can provide organizational leaders with real-time data, analytics and visualizations around where resources are going across the operation. That way, key decision-makers can see when projects are headed for trouble — and choose to loosen up the purse-strings, if warranted, to keep things on the right track.

Some of these tools even have a scheduling component, which means, beyond increasing the funding for key initiatives, leaders can use them to tinker with workloads and even re-route assignments when necessary — all with the click of a button.

When that doesn’t work, however, it’s probably a sign that something more fundamental is out of whack. And that’s something topic we’ll turn to now.

leaders
problem:
leadership isn't 100% bought in.

When leadership doesn't support core strategic planning initiatives, the results are every bit as predictable as they are unfortunate: the rest of the organization doesn’t, either. 

train people
solution:
present problems in compelling, tangible terms — and tie the solution back to ROI.

When organizational leaders aren’t actively driving the strategic planning process, it’s often because they aren’t truly convinced that the problem being addressed is urgent — or for that matter, solvable. Here are three tips to make them think otherwise.

  • Make it real: Break down the problem in clear and concrete terms. Who within the organization does this pain point touch most, and how does it affect them? 

  • Frame the problem in terms of dollars and cents: Attach bottom-line metrics to the problem, and present the solution from that angle, with an emphasis on ROI. 

  • Tell a compelling story: Data alone isn’t going to convert the non-believers — but a gripping narrative, on the other hand, will. And if you can tell the story in a way that the leader you need to convince emerges as the hero, even better. 

At the end of the day, key leaders must be on board for any strategic planning effort to succeed. Otherwise, the process effectively unravels before it even begins. 

arrowss
problem:
your follow-through is weak.

When it comes to business strategy, does execution really ever truly end? That question might sound like a bit of an exaggeration, but in a certain sense, it's true. After all, in an ideal scenario, everyone within the organization should be dedicated to pursuing the goals outlined in your most recent strategic planning session. And that only ends when the next one begins.  

So what can you do to help ensure your key strategic planning initiatives don't die during the execution phase?

train people
solution:
don’t just keep your stakeholders informed on a need-to-know basis — be consistent about it.

Establish a regular cadence of meetings with all relevant stakeholders, framing it as a time when you’ll meet to review shared goals and measure your progress. That’s a smart, and relatively simple, starting off point, because it’ll also help ensure there's adequate dialogue around the initiative in the first place. And from there, it should be easier to proceed in turn, since you’ll know for sure that all parties are aligned and on the same page. 

As a best practice, you should aim to hold these meetings on at least a quarterly basis. You can always bump up the cadence if strategies and priorities are in flux or start to shift more regularly. 

key takeaways for improvements going forward 

We've outlined some of the most common ways that strategic planning goes awry, and suggested some simple strategies to help you make improvements in your business today. Armed with these insights, you should feel more confident going into your next strategic planning meeting.

And to help you even further, let's look at a comprehensive essay on strategic planning from 2011, in which authors Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt and Sven Smit lay down critical groundwork for the field. Most notably, they argue that the following ten questions should be used to put the effectiveness of any business strategy to the test:

1. Will your strategy beat the market?
2. Does your strategy tap into a true source of advantage?
3. Is your strategy granular about where to compete?
4. Does your strategy put you ahead of trends?
5. Does your strategy rest on privileged insights?
6. Does your strategy embrace uncertainty?
7. Does your strategy balance commitment and flexibility?
8. Is your strategy contaminated by bias?
9. Is there conviction to act on your strategy?
10. Have you translated your strategy into an action plan?

Print out this list, bring it to your next strategic planning session and you'll see far greater success when it comes to executing on business goals in the year ahead. In the meantime, head on over to Randstad's comprehensive workforce management learning center to learn about business strategy, how to avoid other pitfalls and everything you need to start making strategic planning improvements today.  

 

 

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4 smart tips for preventing strategic planning setbacks.

Posted by Cyrus Woolard on Sep 23, 2019 1:03:56 PM

Against the backdrop of an economy that seems to be in perpetual motion, the story of many businesses today might best be characterized within the genre of the Bildungsroman. All the telltale signs — great hope, sudden reversals, events that proceed counter to plan — are there. Fundamentally, these are stories of growth and development in the face of obstacles. 

Yet when it comes to strategic planning, that thoughtful space where growth and development get charted out like plot points, too many organizations behave like hapless minor characters, unable or unwilling to change the hands of fate.

But it's time to take back control of the narrative, and the following common four strategic planning pitfalls are a case in point. We’ll break these problems down one by one — then show you how to fix them.

train people
problem:
training is threadbare (or nonexistent).

One often overlooked, yet absolutely critical, component of strategic planning initiatives is that they imply change. Your business has a goal or objective that it isn't currently meeting. How are you going to get there? The answer is: by changing. Changing how you operate. Changing who owns what process. Changing the ways that success gets benchmarked and measured.

But change doesn't happen overnight. It requires the discipline to commit to new behaviors — and reinforcing them is where training comes into play. 

train people
solution:
create a balanced training program.

The key to any effective training program in support of organizational change is that it harmonizes two disparate, and in many ways competing, needs. On the one hand, there’s the need for training that's robust, comprehensive and customizable to suit individual needs. On the other, there’s the need for training programs to be sufficiently universal — or "one size fits all" — in order to be applied at scale. 

So getting that balance right should be a big focus area when creating training programs in support of organizational change. Do that and you'll be able to not only strategically plan more effectively, but bring more of your business goals to life as well.

allocation
problem:
adequate resources haven't been allocated.

A good idea — no matter how good it may be — won't get you very far unless it's backed up by the requisite financial resources to actually make it happen. 

So if you don’t have the resources you need to succeed, what can you do about it? 

train people
solution:
use tools that ensure resources are optimally allocated across the organizations.

The latest resource allocation software can provide organizational leaders with real-time data, analytics and visualizations around where resources are going across the operation. That way, key decision-makers can see when projects are headed for trouble — and choose to loosen up the purse-strings, if warranted, to keep things on the right track.

Some of these tools even have a scheduling component, which means, beyond increasing the funding for key initiatives, leaders can use them to tinker with workloads and even re-route assignments when necessary — all with the click of a button.

When that doesn’t work, however, it’s probably a sign that something more fundamental is out of whack. And that’s something topic we’ll turn to now.

leaders
problem:
leadership isn't 100% bought in.

When leadership doesn't support core strategic planning initiatives, the results are every bit as predictable as they are unfortunate: the rest of the organization doesn’t, either. 

train people
solution:
present problems in compelling, tangible terms — and tie the solution back to ROI.

When organizational leaders aren’t actively driving the strategic planning process, it’s often because they aren’t truly convinced that the problem being addressed is urgent — or for that matter, solvable. Here are three tips to make them think otherwise.

  • Make it real: Break down the problem in clear and concrete terms. Who within the organization does this pain point touch most, and how does it affect them? 

  • Frame the problem in terms of dollars and cents: Attach bottom-line metrics to the problem, and present the solution from that angle, with an emphasis on ROI. 

  • Tell a compelling story: Data alone isn’t going to convert the non-believers — but a gripping narrative, on the other hand, will. And if you can tell the story in a way that the leader you need to convince emerges as the hero, even better. 

At the end of the day, key leaders must be on board for any strategic planning effort to succeed. Otherwise, the process effectively unravels before it even begins. 

arrowss
problem:
your follow-through is weak.

When it comes to business strategy, does execution really ever truly end? That question might sound like a bit of an exaggeration, but in a certain sense, it's true. After all, in an ideal scenario, everyone within the organization should be dedicated to pursuing the goals outlined in your most recent strategic planning session. And that only ends when the next one begins.  

So what can you do to help ensure your key strategic planning initiatives don't die during the execution phase?

train people
solution:
don’t just keep your stakeholders informed on a need-to-know basis — be consistent about it.

Establish a regular cadence of meetings with all relevant stakeholders, framing it as a time when you’ll meet to review shared goals and measure your progress. That’s a smart, and relatively simple, starting off point, because it’ll also help ensure there's adequate dialogue around the initiative in the first place. And from there, it should be easier to proceed in turn, since you’ll know for sure that all parties are aligned and on the same page. 

As a best practice, you should aim to hold these meetings on at least a quarterly basis. You can always bump up the cadence if strategies and priorities are in flux or start to shift more regularly. 

key takeaways for improvements going forward 

We've outlined some of the most common ways that strategic planning goes awry, and suggested some simple strategies to help you make improvements in your business today. Armed with these insights, you should feel more confident going into your next strategic planning meeting.

And to help you even further, let's look at a comprehensive essay on strategic planning from 2011, in which authors Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt and Sven Smit lay down critical groundwork for the field. Most notably, they argue that the following ten questions should be used to put the effectiveness of any business strategy to the test:

1. Will your strategy beat the market?
2. Does your strategy tap into a true source of advantage?
3. Is your strategy granular about where to compete?
4. Does your strategy put you ahead of trends?
5. Does your strategy rest on privileged insights?
6. Does your strategy embrace uncertainty?
7. Does your strategy balance commitment and flexibility?
8. Is your strategy contaminated by bias?
9. Is there conviction to act on your strategy?
10. Have you translated your strategy into an action plan?

Print out this list, bring it to your next strategic planning session and you'll see far greater success when it comes to executing on business goals in the year ahead. In the meantime, head on over to Randstad's comprehensive workforce management learning center to learn about business strategy, how to avoid other pitfalls and everything you need to start making strategic planning improvements today.  

 

 

Topics: topic:problems, cat:staffing