Strategic planning needs to continuously involve the right stakeholders. We need to consider who should be involved in the strategy process, in what way, and when. This is a critical consideration, both because mobilization requires engagement and because effective strategy requires knowledge integration, which is dependent on having the right perspectives involved. Good analysis of the involvement means we must see beyond formal roles and look at the competences and informal networks of communication that exist (or should exist) across our organization. This usually means stepping out of the boardroom and often outside the walls of the company to our customers and stakeholders.
We use Microsystem Analysis and Stakeholder Mapping to ensure that the right perspectives are involved throughout the process. We use a variety of tools to ensure inclusion and that multiple perspectives can be heard – for example Structured Reflection, interactive surveys and digital whiteboards. A Collective Intelligence Acceleration Plan can help you improve the quality of collaboration in your critical networks.
Strategic planning needs to be an iterative and explorative process. It is both a compass and a map. Strategy should be driven by hypotheses and tests to make sure we can make the right choices in a cost and time efficient manner. During the strategy formulation process, we learn more, but we also learn more about what we need to know. Clarifying the scope and requirements of the strategy are as vital as any analysis. If we do not solve the right problem, it does not really matter how well we solve it. We recommend strategic planning to follow a common cadence with the organization’s operations in order to ensure alignment between execution and planning, and allow for synchronized changes of course when necessary. The more forward looking the plan, the less often we should revise it, but if we do not revisit it recurringly – why do we have it?
We use a variety of tools to help the iterations of strategy. Scenarios and set-based design allow us to explore multiple options simultaneously. Design Thinking and the Double Diamond framework allow for iterative development of problem and solution. Triggers and visualizations allow us to secure quicker and deeper feedback loops.
Strategic planning should be recurring and synchronized. Strategy and execution need to loop for effective translation between strategy and operations. This means that strategy should be designed with the end in mind – being able to be executed successfully, and execution should help inform our strategy. Making strategy a continuous two-way dialogue of finding aim toward a direction, striving toward that direction to the best of our ability, and developing our ability to both aim and strive. For this to happen, strategy deployment needs to be a continuous part of our daily business throughout more of the organization.
A concrete way of making this more tangible is a framework such as Objectives and Key Results that creates a dialogue of what we should strive for and what we do to make it happen. You don’t need to work in an ‘Agile’ manner to benefit from aligning the strategic direction and operative planning on a recurring frequency every few months.
Designing the strategic planning process should be method agnostic and needs to be adapted to the situation and capability of the organization. There is no one-size fits all for strategy processes but there are systematic ways of developing our strategy realization maturity. Finding a good balance between strategic robustness and organizational maturity will be key to design the process in a way that the organization can handle. It also gives a good enough sense of direction for the organization to start acting and navigating.
A good way of starting this design is to ask ourselves two questions. First, what is the level of analysis we need to understand? Moving both out from the customer toward macro and inward to the employee. Second, what time perspective are we looking at? Moving forward from the past and into the increasingly far future. The further we move into the future, the more we need to rely on scenarios, simulations, and assumptions to guide us forward. A core facet of a Stratecution approach is that each loop of strategy and execution should make us better at the process of strategizing and translating it into action. This way we create results that are scalable over time.