“Dearly departed, we are gathered here today to pay respects to an organization that passed away before its time. A talented staff with a great mission wasn’t enough to sustain this entity. So many people could have benefited from what they offered, but this organization succumbed to a sudden case of “failure to plan strategically”. Let us bow our heads for a moment of silence...”
Sound familiar? Too often we watch great organizations be read their last rites before their time. Today, with tools that assist with strategic planning, these organizations have no reason to come to an early demise. Let us introduce you to Strategic Planning 3.0, an effective way to avoid an early grave.
Every leader has a sense of purpose – an inner drive to support the success of the mission – whether it is a non-profit, community collaboration, or business. A good leader also has a sense of adventure, balanced by sound judgment. To be successful, a leader needs a good “map” to help them find out:
- Where they are.
- Where they are trying to go.
- The best way to get there.
- How to avoid dangerous terrain.
Without a good map to help them plan strategically, the firm may be led into a quagmire – or worse…“a one way trip to the quicksand pit”.
Strategic planning (SP) is an important business practice. It typically involves setting goals (and objectives), surveying the internal and external business environments, and analyzing the data. Firms use the results to predict events and take effective action to improve their chance of success. A well-done SP provides a systemic view of the firm’s resources and situation. Thus, it supports the firm’s success through managerial learning, improved ability to make effective strategic decisions, and the efficient allocation of resources (see Lorange’s 1978 paper on corporate planning).
Strategic planning is broken down into four levels:
Strategic Planning 0.0: Flying By the Seat of Your Pants
Some avoid SP altogether because of its degree of difficulty. Fear, therefore, leads many managers to use simple strategies and follow only the well-worn paths (see Martin’s 2014 article in Harvard Business Review on “The Big Lie of Strategic Planning”). A firm may need weeks, sometimes months of effort and an outside consultant to prepare a successful plan.
Go with your gut – don’t think too hard about decisions – even if they are important or risky. …What could possibly go wrong?
Strategic Planning 1.0: All the Data, All the Time
SP 1.0 Being overwhelmed by mounds of data. The answer is buried here….somewhere.
Strategic Planning 2.0: Collaboration and Communication
SP 2.0 Some think of SP as a standard practice. Get employees and/or board members around a table and brainstorm, right?
Flying by the seat of their pants using a committee. Whose idea is best? Hmm...
Strategic Planning 3.0: Strategic Knowledge Maps
A strategic knowledge map provides a scientific way to identify knowledge gaps and fine tune your strategic plan.
Organizational knowledge is a key strategic asset. By creating a map, firms can clarify the knowledge needed to successfully execute their strategies, identify internal knowledge gaps and learning opportunities, and clarify strategic knowledge strengths. For more information, see Zack’s 2000 article in Handbook of Business Strategy, “Competing on Knowledge”.
Today, we stand on the threshold of a new adventure. Newly discovered methods make SP much easier and quantify the potential effectiveness of your map - so you don't end up using a bad map. This lets you apply clear criteria—a kind of “quality control” to your knowledge maps, so you get the best chance of making the right decisions.
Good leaders need good maps. SP3.0 is an evolving practice for creating better maps. These new maps will help leaders make better decisions, with greater confidence, to achieve a legacy of lasting success. Let’s keep our valuable establishments out of the “organization cemetery. “
Want to learn more about staying alive with Strategic Planning 3.0? Give us a buzz.
What has been your experience with strategic planning? How do you make strategic decisions? What have been your biggest challenges with strategic planning?