By Denise Harrison, Senior Consultant
Many people return from a strategic planning retreat frustrated, often asking: Were we really concentrating on what is important or were we focusing on what was “top of mind”? Did we make the right decisions or were we swayed by the most persuasive person?
A Better Way to Make Decisions: Thoughtful Consideration Based on Research
One way to prevent making decisions based on opinions and “top of mind” thinking would be to split your strategic planning process into three steps:
- Situation Analysis and Research Identification
- Strategic Formulation (based on the above research)
- Implementation – Turning Strategy into Action
Critically, Step 1 starts your strategic planning process off on solid footing, focusing on the current situation and identifying the important areas of research. These should include:
- Current business segments: Are we positioned to meet their future needs? How are we differentiated?
- Competition: What are they up to? How are they positioned in the market?
- Other considerations that can change the competitive landscape: technology, suppliers, economy and regulations?
- Opportunities: What are they? What is each one’s potential? What is the downside risk?
Taking the time to research these topics and any others that your team deems worthy of research before the strategy formulation session allows for better decisions in which all team members are equipped to participate. It will enable your team to develop a strategy that will really differentiate you from the competition and set you on the path for future success.
Another important component of the research phase is to have the research collected in a consistent format. Having a template for the business segment, competitor and opportunity research is particularly important. This consistent format allows you to compare each topic given the same information rather than miscellaneous bits and pieces pulled together to present the researcher’s thoughts in a favorable light. This consistency allows for rigorous discussion of where to expend your company’s resources in order to achieve the best possible benefit.
If you would like to know how to make your strategic planning sessions more fact-based please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on how to take your strategic planning to the next level please listen to our webinar: Why Isn’t My Strategic Planning Working?
Denise Harrison is a senior consultant for the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. She can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2015 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.