Strategic planning without leadership doesn’t work

5 September 2018
5 September 2018, Comments: 0


Many people I know would rather see the dentist than do planning. Are you one of those?

I must admit that I used to be on the “hate planning” side when I was in a big organization. The senior management team would go off somewhere – probably Banff and create a plan. It didn’t impact my daily work. I could basically do what I did last year without even understanding the strategic plan.

It wasn’t until my last few years of working in a large oil & gas company that I thought there had to be a better way instead of wasting resources on planning, this lead me to discovering the Haines Centre for Strategic Planning.

At the Haines Centre, we researched the common problems with strategic planning and developed a process to overcome these problems.

One of the common problems associated with poor strategic planning is lack of support from leadership.

I have heard horror stories about senior leader showing up for 15 minutes of planning then “called to something more important” or they send a delegate because their time is more important. Message – the plan isn’t important I’m going to ignore it anyway!

Before we start the planning we do something called “Prepare to Begin” in which we do lots of things including determining who whether the leader is truly supportive, how much time we expect the planning to take, and that the leader has to be at every planning session.

The “Prepare to Begin” step did not exist in other planning models when we created our Strategic Management approach. In this step we get ready for planning – we ensure organize for planning, team the approach to your organization, and assess how ready the leader & organization are for planning & implementation. We just don’t stop at creating a plan, but make sure people are committed to executing the plan or we won’t work with you.

Expectations of time and attendance are laid out at the beginning of the process, before we even start planning. We usually get people to pull out their schedules and make in the sessions, plus we get our communications person to send out reminders and/or block the time on calendars.

We had one lawyer who was not attending the planning sessions, the CAO had a discussion with that person around their commitment and how it was clear upfront. This person resisted the planning process, but came around (mostly) when their boss had a frank discussion with them about what was not negotiable.

The “Prepare to Begin” step of our Strategic Management process is perfect to ensure you have the support of your leadership team.

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