Strategic Planning Checklist for Leadership Success

If your strategic planning process and meetings are not highly engaging, energizing, clarifying, focusing, and aligning your team… you’re doing it wrong.

Strategic planning, done well, should be one of the most dynamic and even enjoyable meetings of the minds. It should accelerate a leadership team’s ability to come together to clearly and concisely conclude and communicate not only what their key priorities are, and why they matter.

Strategic Planning

Too many people end up resisting, reacting to, and regretting the plodding march that many organizations call their strategic planning meetings. Every successful strategic planning experience should include:

  • Articulation of the vision, values, and mission upon which the goals and strategies are based
    • These are the ‘why’ that provide the basis upon which decisions are made
      • ie.: Does this goal and strategy serve the fulfillment of our mission?
      • ie.: Is this strategy congruent with our vision and values?
    • Definition of the most important measurements of accomplishment of the vision and mission – also known as the goals
      • These are the ‘what’ that the organization will focus on and measure success by
    • Delineation of best possible strategies for achieving the most important goals
      • These are the ‘how’ that define the best path to success in achieving the goals

What is most often missing is a clear, cohesive vision and mission. What missing vision and mission produce is an overwhelming sense that the goals and strategies are just being made up, and are disconnected from some understandable source or reasoning that really makes sense. It also produces way too much noise and debate in defining the strategies – because the goals are unlinked to a way to make sense of them or validate them as the best possible choices of what to focus on.

The Experience

The actual experience of a strategic planning session should include:

  • A constructive, open debate that coalesces agreement on the vision, values, and mission – so everyone knows why we’re going in the direction we’re going in
  • Energizing discussion that focuses on goals that make sense and will inspire and engage the team and organization
  • A process that aligns the team and generates consensus that can be clearly communicated to the rest of the organization. That includes communicating:
    • What is most important to accomplish, why that choice is the best possible choice of what to accomplish, and how do we believe we can best accomplish the critical goals?
  • An enjoyable, uplifting dialogue that makes the team stronger, more aligned, and better able to work together
  • An experience people look forward to because it enriches their interactions and really matters

These qualities, as well as the outcomes above, are critical for any successful planning experience. Done well, the strategic planning experience sets the stage for success, advances in the business, and a collaborative engagement across the board.

Strategic planning, done poorly, usually produces a “check off the box” experience that your people resist, and which provides minimal results, other than reinforcing the will of the strongest voice. In this day and age, that eliminates over half of the initiative, sense of responsibility, and commitment that is critical for the best possible results.

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