M Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant
Strategic planning is a key part of determining the future course and direction of your organization. Doing it well may be one of the most important actions your leadership team will undertake, and this must not be taken lightly.
At the risk of sounding self-serving (which it is), there are solid reasons why a professional from outside the organization should guide your senior management team through the strategic planning process.
- Organization: A professional leader will have gone through the process of leading teams through strategic planning many times in the past. The leader will know what to concentrate on and what to go over quickly, and why the team should do so. This results in getting the best results for the team and the organization, because little time is spent away from the central purpose of the planning process.
- Objectivity: A professional leader doesn’t have the internal company biases that someone from inside the company may have. The goal of the leader is to lead the team to develop the most effective strategies which fit the circumstances and the capabilities of the organization at the time, and going forward. If the CEO/President leads the strategic planning process, his/her attention is not fully on the content of the planning, which should be his/her most crucial contribution. Process leadership by top management is a serious distraction because it involves constantly thinking about the next steps in the planning process, covering the material needed in the process and keeping the team focused on the process. It leads to incomplete analyses and less than optimal conclusions about where the company should be headed.
- Content: A professional leader will bring the team to consensus on the many issues that need to be discussed. The conclusions reached by the team will be challenged in an open, objective and unthreatening manner by the leader, because the team will understand the role of the leader and that the leader, as mentioned above, doesn’t have the biases or the threat of ongoing power that someone from inside the company may have.
- Completeness: By having someone who is intimately familiar with the process, because they do it many times a year in multiple settings, organizations and industries, the team can be sure that all of the important factors raised in the discussions will be properly addressed by the team. This helps assure that all the bases will be touched and the results of the planning process will correctly reflect the best knowledge and experience the team brings to the organization.
- Buy-in/Commitment: A professional leader should NOT make any strategic decisions about the course and direction of the organization. The decisions are made by the team, under the guidance of the leader and within the constraints the CEO/President determines are within the capabilities and circumstances the organization experiences at the time. This helps assure that the team, which has to execute the strategic plan, has the commitment to the plan and the actions which are prescribed within the plan, because they are responsible for the execution of the final strategic plan.
Professional, qualified outside leadership of your strategic planning normally results in a superior, more comprehensive, actionable strategic plan which leads to better results, higher sales and profits. If this makes sense to you for your company, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-575-3193.
Have you been tasked with leading your organization through the strategic planning process? Attend the Simplified Strategic Planning Seminar for in-depth instruction on this subject as well as all other aspects of Simplified Strategic Planning.
M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: email@example.com
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