Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

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Strategic Planning & Implementation

Volume: January 2012

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com

 

You are part of a team engaged in a strategic planning session. You spend all day together. Numerous brilliant ideas are bantered about. The desired results of your strategic planning vision are beautifully articulated by one of the team members. By the end of the day everyone is energized and ready for a terrific year. Then the dark side of reality rears its ugly head: All the participants return to their regular grind and nothing happens regarding your lauded strategic plan. It simply gathers dust. Does this sound familiar? Most of us have been there – shaking our heads a few weeks after an energizing experience wondering when the exciting changes will take place.

 

My friends, strategic planning does not have to be (and should not be) as described above. If facilitated correctly it is not only an energizing experience, but one that can hold a handsome return-on-investment for your organization. Simply follow 6-steps to strategic planning success.   

 

Step 1: Select a Facilitator: Okay, okay, okay; this is a totally self-serving step. However, for a meaningful strategic plan to be developed, all the proper minds need to be participating. If one of those minds is leading the strategic planning parade, your team is either missing out on their input or being overwhelmed by their opinions and contributions. Take my advice, hire a facilitator to lead your team through the strategic planning process.  

 

Step 2: Review Structure.  We live in a wonderful, dynamic time. The pace of change is astounding. As such, if your organizational structure has not been critiqued in a while, now could be the perfect time to make some tweaks. I take some of my clients through a “blank org chart exercise” that helps them open their minds to an enhanced structure. Another way to think about the structure of your organization is through the lens of workgroup alignment, which seeks to blend talent, needs, the marketplace, and potential. Remember this: A strategic plan has a much greater chance of success if it has an optimal team structure.

 

Step 3: Analyze People.  Most of us are fortunate to have throngs of high-performing professionals populating our ranks. On occasion, there are team members who either by their performance or interpersonal behavior, do not fit. The strategic planning process is the perfect time to recognize your best team members and to build retention walls around them. It is also a good time to identify your weak links in order to decide if they should be onboard. If you field the right players and place them in the right structure you are more than halfway home.

 

Step 4: Address Processes. Over the past few years many organizations have experienced a great deal of ebb and flow. The strategic planning process can serve as a good reminder to review your organization’s processes and procedures. You may want to modify or delete items, or you may realize that some process mapping is needed. Wherever this step leads you, make certain that your organization needs every policy and procedure that is in place. Red tape can be a productivity killer. Make certain your procedural tape is a necessary impediment.    

 

Step 5: Create Actions. Fewer than 25% of workplace change initiatives are successful. A big part of their failure has to do with a lack of meaningful action plans. Since most strategic plans involve some type of change, smart leaders seek to include an action plan during the planning process. Creation of the action plan itself is a six-step process, however, it is essential that it clearly identifies the tasks to be accomplished, states who owns each task, and highlights the specific date by which each task will be achieved. A salient action plan creates accountability and provides leaders with a follow-up tool.

 

Step 6: Implementation. With a meaningful action plan created, the name of the game becomes execution. Leaders should challenge their team members to stay in integrity with regard to the action plan tasks to which they have committed. As team members deliver on their promises, leaders are provided an opportunity to praise and positively reinforce their efforts. In addition, team member accomplishment opens the door for leaders to communicate with the broader organization regarding the marvelous things that are being achieved.  

 

Bottom Line: Strategic planning can deliver huge dividends or be a colossal waste of time. Make it the former by engaging a professional to assist you, reviewing your structure and people, and addressing needed internal procedures and actions. This all leads to meaningful implementation, which is really nothing more than keeping our promises, cheerleading, and communicating achievements. So there you have it leaders, six steps to effective strategic planning. Go forth, drive results, and do not forget to have some fun during the journey!

 

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Please do so, as long as you do not alter the content or embedded links. Also, please include the following information: Doug Van Dyke is a leadership and collaboration consultant, executive coach, and strategic planner. Doug’s book, Leadership Simplified, as well as audios and videos are available at www.leadershipsimplified.com. To learn more about coaching and training services, contact Doug today at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). 

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