Strategic Planning? When will I get the time to do strategic planning??

By Joe Truncale
In May 20, 2010

Ok, so strategic planning may not sound like the most glamorous thing to do, especially now with all of the pressure we are under to perform in a hyper-competitive, ever-changing business environment being transformed by technology.

That the best performing companies in our industry now dedicate more time to planning (not less) should be enough to convince all business leaders that now, more than ever, is the time to take the time.

So why don’t more company leaders engage in strategic planning?  Maybe it’s the name!

In many circles, the phrase, “strategic planning,” has come to mean an esoteric or, worse yet, an academic exercise devoid of any basis in current reality.  Some feel that strategic planning is for big companies whose senior executives can afford the time and expense of going off-site (read: junket) for a few days of supposedly high-level discussions.

If it is neither of these, then just what is strategic planning?  In our view, it is a structured process that enables us to identify your core strengths (and, thereby, your unique abilities), match those up with the biggest and best opportunities available in the marketplace (strategy), and set a course for accomplishing targeted and prioritized objectives while maximizing your available resources (a plan).

Preparation and data are essential to the process.  Data about your competitive position in the marketplace (as identified by your customers) using NAPL’s Competitive Edge Profile™ is a helpful starting place.  So is a thorough examination of our best relationships as a means of developing target areas of sales growth, using NAPL’s Key Account Accelerator™ system (more about these tools in later updates).

Two essentials for an effective planning session:  First, engage the services of a skilled, experienced facilitator.  Resist the temptation to try to save a few dollars by doing this yourself.  Strategic planning facilitation is easy when you don’t know what you’re doing and quite difficult when you do.  Besides, you should be an active participant in the discussion and it is nearly impossible to do this as a facilitator.

Second, if at all possible, do not do this in your conference room.  I’m not exactly sure why, but being offsite creates a different kind of thought pattern in the minds of the participants (and they won’t be running back to their desks during each break).  The location does not have to be far away, fancy, or expensive, but it absolutely should be different than the workplace.

There is nothing vague, mysterious, or evasive about strategic planning.  When done well, it is about eliminating distractions, confusion, and complexity; making sense of our best opportunities; and aligning organizational resources to create our biggest and best future.

Doesn’t now seem like a good time to start?

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