How to Get the Most from Your Strategic Planning Process

After working with hundreds of companies around the world to dial in a tight strategic planning process, we have found that things can loosen over time.

When you’re in the middle of running your business, fighting battles and making things happen, it’s hard to stay focused on your competitive advantage.

So, here are six ways to get the most from your strategic planning process, and stay focussed on learning and improving.

1. Find the right framework

The right framework helps you to get clear, helps to organize your thoughts, and aligns the rest of your team and company. It also allows you to take the time to zoom out and focus on the business rather than being in the business.

There’s a balance between too simple and not simple enough. You don’t need 27 different things to do, otherwise you are less likely to follow through. You want a framework that is easy to implement, allows for deep insights and interlocks to all the other pieces of your business.

As a key driver behind and contributor to the book Scaling Up 2.0, we recommend the use of these tools as a baseline for companies.

2. Find the right facilitator

Make sure you find an experienced facilitator/coach/advisor – a master of the framework and a good fit for your company – to lead the process. This person will do all the prep work, own the meeting agenda and run the meeting effectively to make sure you talk about the right things to get the most value.

Once you implement a strategic planning framework, allow about 18 months on average, until the system settles down into a calm, clear rhythm.

Note: Once you’ve chosen a framework, don’t touch it until you’ve worked with it for a few years, otherwise you assume you’re smarter than the person who built it. That’s like somebody’s removing the radiator from a car to make it lighter, not thinking it’s important.

3. Define a clear vision and culture to align people with strategy

Put time into building a bus that the right people want to get on. Create a journey that people want to join and be excited about.

4. Set a strategy to win

This is not just about what you’re doing but why you’ve got to do it, and how you’re going to do it. What are you deeply passionate about? How are you going to differentiate yourself and meet your customers’ needs?

5. Set SMART goals

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound.

Prioritize your top three to five goals for three to five years which have a tangible outcome for the business.

6. Create an accountability-learning loop

This is about standing up to deliver on the progress (monthly) and accomplishment (quarterly) of your goals, financials, and KPIs. It maps your goals/ projects around your people – against actual company execution goals.

When someone doesn’t deliver, ask:

  • Was it bad strategy?
  • Or was it bad execution?

Those are the only two options: either you didn’t think well, or you didn’t work well. (Thanks to Dave Baney for this one.)

This accountability creates a tension that leads to learning and improving. And it drives growth – as you get better and faster through quarterly cycles.

This can be hard for some CEOs and leaders to do and where a coach can also add value.

The Challenge

  • What things are working well with your strategic planning process and how can you enhance them?
  • How can you take your strategic planning from good to great?
  • What isn’t working, and what can you do to fill the gaps to make the process more effective?

For more about this, listen to Episode 85 of The Growth Whisperers.

If you need help from one of our professional facilitators, please reach out.

Lawrence & Co’s work focuses on sustainable and enhanced growth for you and your business. Our diverse and experienced group of advisors can help your leaders and executive teams stay competitive through the use of various learning tools including workshops, webinars, executive retreats, or one-to-one coaching.

We help high-achieving leaders to have it all – a great business and a rewarding life. Contact us for simple and impactful advice. No BS. No fluff.