Strategic Planning Best Practices
Evolving the Planning Process for Sustained Results
Strategic planning serves as a road map to maximize an organization’s finite time, energy, and resources. In determining a set of goals and approaches, a strategic plan is an acknowledgment that not all organizational initiatives are equally important, and that it is paramount to determine which goals are paramount now. Washington Business Dynamics (WBD) consultants have partnered with dozens of Federal Agencies and the private sector to craft strategic plans that translate into measurable results. From this work, we have identified three “essentials” in a strategic planning.
In order to garner buy-in, it is essential to incorporate stakeholders who are familiar with the operating environment and who may play a role in the organization’s future success. These stakeholders are the most likely to know which goals are realistic given resource constraints and how to best prioritize competing initiatives. This transparency is being widely adopted in the technology sector, where leadership teams are able to move more quickly while having broader backing from their workforce.
Unanticipated events, such as the novel coronavirus 2019 or the 2008 financial crash, make contingency planning critical for organizational success. Effective strategic planning instills flexibility to enable the organization to rethink and realign to its ever-changing operating environment. A key event in the planning process may be an offsite in which the organization can stress test the plan in various scenarios. This exercise tests the plan’s flexibility as well as trains leaders how to utilize it as a key tool for day-to-day decision-making. A strategic plan’s ability to provide guidance in unpredictable, black-swan types of events makes it an enduring organizational resource.
Benchmarking and tracking a strategy’s progress is essential to driving change. A roadmap or dashboard to manage the enterprise’s progress will create accountability for the organization. Whether it is evaluating specific budget or staffing plans for the year, pausing routinely to assess lessons learned will ensure the organization remains aligned toward a common vision.
Organizations frequently have habits deeply ingrained into its structure, creating resistance to change. Strategic planning is a key method to ensure that all organizational resources are aligned toward a common goal. Learn more about WBD’s service lines and how we assist organizations with strategic planning here.