Time Management Training – Making your Strategic Planning Work

Time Management Training

Making your Strategic Planning Work

When refining or creating your vision for next year, it is crucial that every team member participates fully, offering as much constructive input as possible. The more participative and inclusive the process of creating or refining your vision is, the easier it will be for all stakeholders to accept and apply the new vision. The vision for your team is in effect, a very clear and concise message, which gives all stakeholders a crystal clear direction that they all will travel in, during the next year and beyond. This common understanding and direction for all stakeholders, with all efforts focused on achieving the same outcomes, will result in the pooling of efforts and great synergy between everyone.

Developing your Vision and Strategic Plan

I work with a number of different organizations, helping them to refine or create a new vision and strategic plan for their teams. One of the best sessions I ever facilitated was for a really switched on leader and his team, in the telecoms industry. The leader of the group was really engaging and he had a saying posted on all four walls of the room, which read “I want to know what you know, so that we can create magic together” His interest in inviting his team to participate in the process of refining their vision and strategic plan for the next year was incredible. With this open and inviting approach, every team member contributed their part to the process, which allowed us to process all the relevant information, contrasting it with the vision and strategic plans for the future.

Participative Process

The great, positive input which flowed from everyone at the strategic planning session was nothing short of miraculous. All stakeholders really appreciated his efforts to include everyone and to not discount anyone’s perspective. No one at the meeting felt like they had to influence anyone to see their perspective. All ideas were tabled and seen as an opportunity to share knowledge and build upon the ideas of the group. This is a lesson I have carried with ever since that session. The more people participate in the creation or refinement of their vision and strategic planning for the future, the greater will be the buy in and application of the new strategic initiatives.

Strategic Planning is Never about Being Right

Everyone who attends a strategic planning session must realize that it is never about one person being right. It is a participative process about creating a workable framework and direction, to encourage everyone to travel on the right road together, so that they can achieve a common positive outcome. When everyone at these sessions is committed to sharing constructive ideas, the outcome is never a compromise, it is a mutual effort to construct a clear, easy to understand and apply direction for the future.

Designing the Way Towards RIGHT

Everyone who is involved in creating or reefing the strategic process going forward must approach the process with an open and contributive mindset. This process can only succeed if, everyone focuses and genuinely wants to design the way towards “RIGHT”. By “RIGHT” I mean, the best place in the future, where the desired outcome will be achieved and all stakeholders will benefit from that outcome.

Making it Work

  • Everyone who attends the strategic planning session should come to listen, ask questions and offer positive and constructive input to help the process.
  • Anyone with any negative input must also come along with a proposed solution. It is really destructive to the whole process, if only negative input is offered, without any thought around solution. We can all find fault, success during this process comes from solution focused thinking.
  • Try to frame questions to help everyone to think through the completeness and clarify their viewpoints
  • Constantly stay focused on moving things along from situation assessment to approach development. This can be easily facilitated by liberally asking questions like “How would you”, “How might you”, or “What If”
  • It is often necessary to change your divergent thinking to convergent thinking, by understanding that there are certain boundaries and restrictions within which, the team is forced to work. This could be because of the need to work within the constraints of a larger vision or other limiting constraints.
  • The success of the process is very dependent on everyone being sensitive to the decision making and cognitive biases, which always exist within any group. Everyone must recognize and move beyond these very human issues. The process is never about the individual, it is a process to help refine and focus the efforts of the group.
  • Everyone must be certain that they understand the desired outcome. Ask questions until you are clear on what is actually required.

I can assure you that there will be a number of contentious issues raised during any strategic planning session, which may differ from your own. The secret to make any strategic planning session work is for all participants to remove the need to be right and replace it with the need to create the “RIGHT” vision and strategic plan for the future.

Author: Andrew Horton Time Management Training






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