What if planning happened at a community level rather than an organization level?
What difference would that make?
How would that work?
What would happen if organizations engaged more people in the planning process?
If organizations were to engage more people in the process:
Who are the right people?
How do you find them?
Where do you find them?
How do you engage them in ways that are mutually meaningful?
Have we limited our ability to envision a better, brighter future by using the wrong starting point for our planning process?
Have the questions we’ve asked limited the options and answers we found?
Could we achieve a different outcome by asking different questions?
Is doing a SWOT really necessary? Does it contribute to or detract from effective planning?
What different tools could we use to be more effective in our planning process?
What can an organization do to make sure the resulting plan doesn’t just collect dust on the bookshelf?
What’s the real value a facilitator provides?
What’s my personal philosophy about strategic planning?
Fortunately, I’m not the only one rethinking and reframing strategic planning, there’s a cadre of consultants and thought leaders exploring better ways to approach strategy development. Over the next few posts we’ll unpack these and other questions as we rethink strategy development.
Let’s tackle one of the big questions right now: What if the ultimate outcome of a strategic planning project is not the plan, but the planning process itself?
That sentiment is perhaps best expressed in a remark by General Eisenhower during World War II. He observed, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Did he mean that plans had no value at all?
By no means!
However, he saw little value in plans that were static and inflexible. He understood that plans are built on a set of assumptions and rarely does reality play out according to those assumptions. As a student of war, he understood that “no plan survives contact with the enemy” (Hemut von Moltke the Elder).
If plans are useless, then why would he say, “planning is indispensable”? Because the very act of planning, in and of itself, holds great value. Assembling a team of the best and brightest minds you can, considering a multitude of factors, and exploring a variety of options better positions you to act and react to a changing environment and seize strategic opportunities.
Personally, I deliberately changed my vocabulary. If you ask me about strategic planning, I’ll respond by talking about strategy development.
Organizations need strategy. That strategy certainly influences planning, but it’s an ongoing process, not a one-time project. It’s akin to Harley-Davidson’s mantra, “it’s a journey, not a destination.” So also is strategy development a journey and not a document.
If you’re one of those that’s been disappointed or frustrated by past experiences with strategic planning I hope you’ll join us for this journey of rethinking strategy and finding new ways to bring fresh ideas, strategic thinking, and action to your work.
Please share your experiences or ask your questions; let’s travel this journey together.