Strategic planning has changed. Gone are the days when a pre-fabricated “one-size-fits-all” model of planning can be used for any organization. Gone are the days where a small group of executives and spend three days in a retreat at a luxury resort and return with an annual plan. Gone are the days when organizations could change the dates plans from a few years earlier and put them in a new binder to gather dust on a shelf while the “real” day-to-day work continues on as usual.
The economic, political, social and health landscapes have all experienced unprecedented disruption in the past few years. Never before has there been such strong demand for holistic vision, intention, transparency and accessibility in strategic plans. Plans today are expected to be shared with employees, partners, agencies and in many cases, the public at large. The idea that a strategic plan must be much more dynamic, fluid, public and ready for intense scrutiny is unfamiliar and daunting for many of our clients.
Our approach to the planning process is to craft a strategic narrative that is representative of the voices of all stakeholders, a plan that is sophisticated and adaptable in uncertain times, and action items that are clear enough that every employee and partner can easily see and understand their role in the plan. That is a tall order. Producing this sort of plan goes beyond the traditional realm of “strategic planning” and requires skilled facilitation, story-shaping, and communication.
Our facilitation style is to function as an “outside benevolent force” for our clients. This is not a neutral force, but one that seeks the same core goals (for roughly the same reasons) as the key stakeholders, while also offering an outside consultative point of view. The recipe is not particularly unique; it is the artistry and subtle choices of our facilitators that yield the potential of the planning process and the quality of the strategy that will emerge.