Versity - Solutions - Strategic Business Planning

By: Versity Management Consultants  09-12-2011
Keywords: Strategic Planning

Success in today's business environment requires that a company's leaders have the ability to create a vision of the organization's future direction as well as the plan it needs to get there. The annual strategic planning session is often the only time in a year that the top management team takes the opportunity to explore strategic issues in depth.

As the CEO and senior leaders of the business are accountable for and measured by its results, the quality of the product of the strategic planning session can have a significant impact on the success of the business. A successful strategy planning session should align executives, galvanize corporate performance, and strengthen the company’s position in its industry.

At VERSITY, we have facilitated strategic planning sessions for dozens of organizations with great success. We have also facilitated cross functional work teams (sales, product, and marketing) to encourage effective internal collaboration in the understanding of customers needs, the development of products, product launches, and sales implementation).

The approach we developed considers the results the client is seeking from the planning session and includes extensive pre-meeting preparation and design. Our powerful framework helps executives make the most of their strategic planning time and ensures that they leave with the mechanisms in place to execute their plan.

Our extensive experience has enabled us to develop an approach that includes the following critical steps:

Pre meeting preparation:

  • Understand where the client is in their strategy process and clarify what focused outcomes they desire from the meeting. 
  • Ensure the CEO restricts the scope of the planning session to a manageable number of key issues. 
  • Determine the time frame that applies to the issues and develop the meeting objectives, which in turn determines the agenda and participant list.

We believe that a thorough analysis of the business and its environment is critical, and that the meeting is not the place to plod through data. The environmental scan typically includes a Customer and Stakeholder analysis, analysis of Porter’s 5 Forces, a PESTEL analysis, and a SWOT analysis. This analysis is done as pre work and consolidated prior to the planning meeting.

Designing the structure of the meeting: 

  • Based on the desired outcomes of the meeting we select the tools and processes that will help the team identify the right strategic initiatives.
  • We create a structured agenda for the meeting that includes the topics, the time, and the objectives for each segment.

At the Meeting:

  • Skilled facilitation ensures that we pay attention to the quality of the conversation and the momentum of the discussion. We manage the invisible currents that often exist and influence progress. 
  • To push the conversation forward to the point of decision making and ensure that the issues - no matter how contentious, are addressed, we use a wide variety of problem solving and decision making tools and techniques. 
  • As reaching closure and making decisions is critical to the process; we ensure that the team leaves the meeting with a manageable number of clear, focused and prioritized strategic initiatives and an implementation plan*. The plan includes milestones, reporting frequencies, and a RACI chart that identifies who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed for each initiative. 
  • Before leaving a session, we work with management to produce a clear and easily communicated written summary of what was discussed, what decisions were reached and the next steps.
    We pay as much attention to aligning the team members around the strategy and plan as we do to the content of the plan because, after the workshop, an aligned team will make faster, better decisions and fewer decisions at cross purposes.

*After the Meeting
One of the biggest concerns we see when we work with most organizations for the first time is that they have too many objectives and try to take on too much with the result that they disappoint themselves and their stakeholders. Our guidance is to narrow down the list of corporate objectives as much as possible (Max 5-10 key initiatives).

  • Document a focused list into SMART + Q objectives
  • Determine who is accountable for each objective
  • Cascade those objectives down to Divisions, Departments, and individuals in the same SMART+Q format.
  • These objectives form the basis of employees Performance Contracts
  • Help individuals develop a tactical plan for each key initiative which includes measurements
  • And as important as all the above together, ensure organizations REVIEW performance on a regular basis as the senior management table so that there is a strong culture of performance and accountability

This is where most organizations fall flat…they have too many objectives that are not focused on the critical few, they do not review performance on a regular basis, and they do not hold people accountable for delivering. We change that and help the organization develop a realistic plan it can implement within the agreed upon timeframe. We deliver results that you can experience.

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Keywords: Strategic Planning

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