We’re going to assume you HAVE a strategic planning process. But what are your strategic planning process steps — and how do you keep yourself, your team, and your company on the path? One of our associates was leading a company’s strategic planning process session and asked everyone to write down their three-year goals for the organization on an index card. There were eight people around the table… and 10(!) index cards were handed in. Something like that is very common when we run a Strategic Alignment Process™. We asked them who handed in more than one set of answers.
What is Visionary Leadership?
After a few moment’s hesitations, the CEO sheepishly raised his hand and said, “Three of them are mine.” We urged him on. “I’m not really sure where I want to be in three years,” he continued. “Do I want to build the company up, or do I want to be acquired, or do I just want to retire? I vacillate between all three options.” We kept a poker face, but the glances around the table were telling. Suddenly, all his C-Suite direct reports understood why they could never get anything approved or green-lighted through him. He was suffering from analysis paralysis and his “visionary leadership” held at least three different visions.
As subtly as possible, we realized a little executive coaching was needed. We asked him what the most important financial outcome of each of those three options was. Eventually — and we could see everyone holding their breath — he realized that all three visions required the same overarching plan: To build and grow the company up from where it currently was…regardless of what HE planned as a result. The moment he realized it, he broke into a smile and the entire table burst out in applause. The hard part was over in the first half-hour. Now, all we had to do was help them build out an action plan to get bigger. This time with the CEO leading the charge.
Tend the Garden
By the end of that day, the group had built out a specific plan including a vision, mission, goals, and next action steps. They knew that day was a great kick-off, but also just their launching point. They all agreed to make a Strategic Alignment Process™ follow up session a regular quarterly event. Before they left, everyone had the next quarterly session scheduled on their calendars. Mission accomplished. Because a true strategic planning process requires making sure you stay on track and aligned.