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Are you getting the most out of your strategic planning?

Strategic planning holds immense significance for organisations, serving as a roadmap to navigate challenges and seize opportunities. As a cornerstone process for any organisation's success, it's important to do it right to maximise the benefits. In this article, I will share several key best practices and considerations to help ensure your strategic planning process is truly impactful.

Starting with Clarity of Purpose

Taking the time to define what success looks like for our specific initiative lays a solid foundation for the entire process. By asking ourselves, "What does a good process and outcome look like?" we establish a framework that guides our decision-making and actions. Remember that without this clarity on desired results, it becomes challenging to gauge our progress and make necessary adjustments along the way. It's a reminder of the critical role that thoughtful planning plays in achieving meaningful outcomes.

Learning from Experience

It's also crucial to reflect on past strategic plans. Looking back provides insight into what has and hasn't worked previously for your unique organisation. Asking, "What have we learned from the current strategic plan? And were the goals achieved?" Taking lessons from both successes and failures can help inform a more effective approach this time around. 

Setting the Right Direction

With a shared understanding of desired outcomes and lessons learned, the discussion turns to setting strategic direction. It is important to be clear on where you want to go as an organisation before identifying specific initiatives that align with the overall mission.

Choosing Goals that Demonstrate Impact

When it comes to goal-setting, we need to be simply against selecting metrics that are easy to measure. I wanted to point out that we can’t improve what we can’t measure. Find ways to track outcomes demonstrating real value, even if less straightforward. Also, make sure that the goals being "measurable but not erring on the side of caution." Maintaining momentum requires goals that motivate.

Defining Roles and Responsibilities

As mentioned above, clarity is paramount. Aside from that, we've found that having a dedicated facilitator, separate from those participating, can greatly enhance the process's effectiveness. Alongside facilitation, it's crucial to clearly define responsibilities for tasks like data collection, communication, and implementation. This ensures that everyone involved understands their role and can contribute effectively to the planning process. Ultimately, clear portrayal of responsibilities fosters accountability and streamlines decision-making, setting the stage for successful strategic outcomes.

Matching Approach to Context

The chosen strategic planning approach also warrants consideration. The level of participation or collaboration needed should guide your choice. Moreover, understanding the timeline is crucial; some initiatives may demand longer-term planning for comprehensive strategies, while others may benefit from a more agile, iterative approach to adapt to changing circumstances. 

By keeping these best practices top of mind, organisations can maximise results from their strategic planning investments. With clarity of purpose, learning from the past, and the right approach, a new strategic plan can truly propel an organisation where it needs to go.

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