What’s Your Company’s “Strategic Planning Personality?”

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

The kids are back to school, and … it’s time to do planning for 2020!

In a fast-growing or enterprise company, one of the most difficult challenges is creating space on an annual or biannual basis to establish the strategic goals of the business. I’m talking about the big, hairy, corporate-wide goals – not just for the marketing function, but for the business as a whole.

Planning brings out different company personalities:

The “Go for Launch” Personality

Houston, we have a problem … When you do all of your planning around product launches, you miss big opportunities for continuity!

  • Communication to the market is non-standard, fragmented, and product focused
  • Metrics are reactive, and deliver only lagging indicators
  • Product launches and enhancements can stray from plan, creating a culture of fire drill

 The “Let’s Turn to Slide 200” Personality

Your company has plans. The plan has a plan, and then there’s an activation plan and a weekly meeting that will commence when the reorg is finished.  Does this sound familiar? Too much strategy-heavy planning can be a productivity killer! After all, every plane needs landing gear.

  • Dedicate a finite amount of time toward planning, and try to eliminate distraction during the planning process
  • Not every strategic priority needs a fully-baked project plan, but there should be high- level impact points, milestones, and quarterly check points aligned to each.
  • “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Any progress is better than a dormant deck of slideware.

The “Game of Thrones” Personality

Your company has spirited, passionate leadership – ambitious goals – and at times, different perspectives on what should be prioritized. 

  • Lack of communication and interlock results in duplication of efforts and slower pace to market
  • Poor socialization of goals, so teams don’t understand the priorities of the business in 2020 until, well … 2020!
  • Misdirected efforts can erode employee morale
  • Different definitions of success can make goal setting difficult, if not impossible.

We have a sense of humor about planning because it’s one of the most difficult executive-level exercises that organizations face. 

Taking the Pain out of Planning:

Here is a sneak peak at some helpful tools and thought exercises to help align teams in the direction of achievable, sensible planning. The desired outcome is 3-5 initiatives that will drive priorities for the year.

First, perform a current state SWOT analysis for Customers, Sales, Partners/Influencers, PR and press, your team, and any other function that is applicable to this exercise for your business.

 Then, define the situation that you’d like to have at the end of the year in each of the five categories. Focus on the outcome, and think, “What would our press release headline and sub-headline be?”

For example, for the Team category: “Everyone in the company can confidently carry the new company message. Marketing team members feel they have career growth opportunities. “

Once you’ve identified the desired outcomes, conduct a brainstorming session of actions or initiatives that progress toward the outcomes. The initiatives should be home runs, not base hits – they’ll take multiple quarters to accomplish, and the effort will span across multiple teams. 

And remember, as the incomparable Peter Drucker used to say, “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” 

Inverta has conducted multiple, successful planning workshops for mid-market and enterprise companies. If you’re interested in learning more about our approach to strategic planning, feel free to contact us.