Strategic Planning Best Practices

A good strategy matched with outstanding implementation is every organization’s best assurance of success.  Integrate Corporate Social Responsibility with these best practices and you will have a winning combination.

1 ) Pull together a diverse, yet appropriate, group of people to make up your planning team.

Diversity leads to a better strategy. Bring together a small core team (between six and ten people) of leaders and managers who both represent every area of the company with their expertise and perspectives and who also reflect the diversity of your clients.  It is important to ensure that these individuals are capable of foregoing their personal interests in favour of the organization’s strategic objectives.

2) Allow time for big picture, strategic thinking.

To create a strategic plan, your team needs time to think big, be innovative and have the courage to challenge the status quo. This means allowing time for big-picture thinking away from the stress of day-to-day operations.

3) Integrate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into your planning. 

CSR provides your organization with a sustainable competitive advantage.  By taking a responsive and strategic approach, your team can determine which objectives will balance both economic strength and social value.  Strategic planning enables actions and activities devoted to being socially responsible and those which will strengthen your competitive advantage.

4) Get full commitment from key people in your organization.

Implementation will run more smoothly if you have the support of key people such as senior management, managers and employees who are trusted and credible individuals within your organization.

5) Allow for open and free discussion regardless of each person’s position within the organization.

Open and free discussions are the hallmark of transparency.  All perspectives are relevant, which encourages active and passionate participation.

6) Think about execution before you start.

It doesn’t matter how good the plan is if it isn’t executed.

7) Use a facilitator, if your budget allows.

Engage a trained professional who has no emotional investment in the outcome of the plan. An impartial third party can concentrate on the process instead of the end result and can ask the tough questions that others may fear to ask.

8) Make your plan actionable.

To have any chance at implementation, the plan must clearly articulate goals, action steps, responsibilities, accountabilities, and specific deadlines with all staff understanding the plan and their role in it.

9) Don’t write your plan in stone.

Good strategic plans are fluid, not rigid and unbending. They allow you to adapt to changes in the marketplace.  Don’t be afraid to change your plan as necessary.

10) Clearly articulate next steps after every session.

Before closing the strategic planning session, clearly explain what comes next and who’s responsible for what. When you walk out of the room, everyone must fully understand what they’re responsible for and when to meet deadlines.

11) Make strategy a habit, not just a retreat.

Review the strategic plan for performance achievement at least every 90 days and as often as monthly or weekly. Focus on accountability for results and performance outcomes and have clear and compelling consequences for unapproved missed deadlines.