5 stages of strategic planning
We’ve all sat in monthly or quarterly strategy meetings, wondering whether an hour – or sometimes even a day – sat around the table will result in a real change within the business. Often, you’ll be left wondering: Have we really nailed our strategy? Did last quarter’s numbers make sense? How do we take the organisation to the next level?
A lot of the time these meetings are defined by metrics and a single ‘moment in time’ such as target reviews, annual appraisals or monthly quotas – all often presented by functions within an executive team. Whilst these check-in moments may be necessary, in many cases they mean that leaders don’t have clarity on the real-time behaviours and processes that feed into each binary target. Key insights such as: workforce networks, informal influencers, cross-department or office communications, sentiment towards work, demographic filtering – the list goes on – will be missing if the C-suite simply takes a snapshot of their organisational performance once every three months.
The companies that not only survive but thrive, are those that plan well with an ‘always on’ approach and use organisational intelligence to place bets on their future. Their strategic plans leave behind the static, tested management practices of the past and instead, their leaders work with a continuous approach to decision making. They define a clear, aligned, accessible direction to their workforce. But to make informed decisions in this era of rapid change, leaders must have clearer and faster insights. You need to look at the depth and breadth of organisational performance – both now and as new strategies are implemented.
But how do you know you’re doing it right?
It’s important for leadership teams to think about where you want to be and how you can get there. This vision should be your overall goal for the company. It doesn’t have to be iterated in numbers, but perhaps it is related to organisational culture, greater innovation, becoming digital for you and your customers and reaching agile maturity, building resilience or entrenching conduct. Whatever the overall vision is, for it to be successful you must communicate with your teams, ensure they are all aligned around this effort and be transparent about the storms you may have to navigate to get there.
You may know where your organisation should be going but before you can start making decisions that will get you there, you must have clarity on where your organisation is now. If you understand what is working, what you want to do more of – and what you don’t – then you will be able to articulate ideas that drive a positive performance towards your collective vision.
But this can be challenging. Many leaders suffer from partial insight because key information is hidden in silos caused by enterprise systems, complex workforce structures and people not having a lateral view of their organisation beyond their function or department. You must unify fragmented data to gain key insights into the organisation so you know where you are before pressing forwards. Throughout this stage, while you’re looking to understand what’s really happening under the bonnet of the business, you’ve got to be willing to challenge your existing thinking. Your decision-making must be in favour of up-to-date information from across the whole of your business, not solely your instinct of what will work.
Ask yourself, what are the biggest hurdles to reaching your vision and how will you overcome them? These may be internal headwinds or external threats to your goals but if you can broadly map out the potential challenges, you can design your strategy to overcome them.
You must therefore compose a strategy at the organisational level so as to not get lost in the measurements of a moment in time. Small and tactical problems can distract from a clear focus on the bigger vision you’re actually trying to realise. Of course, there will come a period to hone in on the exact practices within each team, or even of individuals that you wish to adapt, but for now look at the broader motions you can implement.
A robust strategy is reliant on your organisation utilising its unique strengths as well as your workforce having a collective willingness to challenge and change specific points of weakness. Likewise, how you adapt to change will be bespoke to your business and the market conditions you find yourself in. This means that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to your evaluation – this must be unique too.
Don’t fall into the trap of conducting quarterly reviews and these being your only form of evaluation. Instead, employ a continuous approach. Constantly ask yourself and your teams what’s working so far. Search for the individual, leadership and organisational qualities that are driving success and moving you towards that overall vision for the business. This real-time evaluation will make you and your people more resilient to the changing environments your organisation will find itself in and therefore able to improve performance into the future.
Our organisational intelligence platform Workbench gives leaders clarity. Workbench collects and analyses structured and unstructured data from across your organisation – showing you how work gets done most effectively and helping your organisation to excel. The insights gathered from across your various productivity and communications tools, as well as directly from people and teams, gives leadership teams a clear picture of the organisation. We help you understand where you are now, what to do next and in what order, whilst monitoring key areas for your improvement.
Temporall’s Workbench gives you the tools to have an always on approach to strategic planning. It analyses your data to help our team of experts and Partners produce three key real-time outputs that aid your decision making: Reports, Dashboards, and APIs to help make these key insights more pervasive and consumable across your company.
Interested in improving your strategic planning, based on organisational intelligence rather than instinct? Contact us.
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