We’re now in the midst of the traditional strategic planning season. Given that, we’re partnering with several organizations whose planning teams are working hard to outline a clear, focused path forward for their respective organizations. For leaders who have previously experienced the strategic planning process, this process can be frustrating, stimulating, demoralizing, and energizing all at the same time. However, for leaders who struggle to comprehend the need to define and capture new strategic initiatives while not documenting and tracking oppressive current operations, the strategic planning process can be perplexing to say the least. Being able to understand and accept the difference in strategic versus complex operational actions is key to successful strategic planning.
Being able to understand and accept the difference in strategic versus complex operational actions is key to successful strategic planning.
Most basically, strategic plans should serve as a consolidated map of ‘Must Do’ initiatives that will reposition your organization to survive and thrive in the future. Because of that, it’s intended to capture those new intentional and impactful initiatives that are needed to propel the organization from its current state to a new level of performance, efficiency, or activity. Without these massive initiatives, your planning team anticipates your organization’s current operations will no longer be sufficient to compete or be effective in the future. Strategic, intentional initiatives are needed to ensure your viability, effectiveness, and success.
Strategic, intentional initiatives are needed to ensure your viability, effectiveness, and success.
Though critical and often times overwhelming, ‘regular’ operations and programs aren’t typically included in strategic plans. Why? Because they represent your core line of offerings that don’t or won’t change dramatically over the next 3+ years. They are the services or products for which you are known. They are what the bulk of your workforce does day in and day out. Yes, there are frequently challenges with these operational activities, and many are incredibly complicated, complex, and challenging. However, they’re what your organization is expected to be able to do.
Operational activities may be incredibly complicated, complex, and challenging. However, they’re what you’re organization is expected to be able to do.
Continuing, maintaining or enhancing ‘regular’ operations to meet your customers’ needs and expectations is not strategic. That’s basic operations management. However, revamping operations to eliminate the unprofitable service lines and redirect resources to the most profitable service lines is strategic. Operational activities only become strategic when an intentional and fundamental change is made to them. A classic example of this is when the Coca-Cola® company intentionally reformulated its classic beverage in 1985 in an attempt to re-engergize its brand. Even though they’d been making this core product as part of regular operations for nearly 100 years, when they intentionally decided to change the formula, that decision was strategic. That decision would impact their formulations, operations, distribution, marketing, branding, and finances. It turned out to be a bad strategic decision, but it was an intentional decision to adjust core operations and production.
Strategic initiatives change the way you operate.
The strategic plan is not intended to be the catch-all for tracking the organization’s complex activities. It’s intended to be the roadmap of intentional new initiatives or alterations in current operations to move your organization to a place of greater stability, effectiveness or performance.
Plan strategically. Your future depends on it.
Copyright MMXIX - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about me on LinkedIn!