- April 24, 2020
- Posted by: Alyson Van Hooser
- Category: Strategic Planning
To successfully complete the strategic planning process, you need ALL the information. Use this tip to help uncover information hiding in plain sight.
Blind Spots in Step 1 of Your Strategic Planning Process
Uniquely, I’ve experienced working on the front lines and sitting at the Board table — at the same time. This was incredibly eye-opening from a leadership perspective. Year after year I saw blind spots – or disconnects — from what leadership sees/thinks is happening versus what is really going on day to day. Some blind spots weren’t worth dissecting, others changed the course of leadership’s direction.
Without connecting leadership and the front-line, leaders make decisions without all the information. That’s like putting on shorts in April because it’s sunny, but then walking outside to feel that it’s only 37 degrees. You can’t make the best decision without all the information.
Step One in the Strategic Planning Process
You’ve gathered your team to take on the strategic planning process. It likely consists of top leaders among all departments, right?
The first step in the strategic planning process is typically centered around your vision statement, mission statement, and ultimately figuring out who and where you are right now. So each leader on the team has read the reports, analyzed the audits, and formed conclusions about where you are. They’re ready to knock out step one!
Gathering that team and analyzing the formal data is a smart move to make. However, if that’s the only move you make, you’re asking for blind spots and disconnects. You have to uncover those! If you don’t, you’ll likely end up with a strategic plan that fails.
ONLY 1/10 organizations successfully reach all of their strategic goals.
– Brightline™ Initiative
Dig Deeper Than The Numbers
Go deeper than Internal/External Reports/Audits. I want you to start involving front line employees, or at least front line supervisors. Whether you want to believe it or not, their experience – even if it’s limited — can uncover information that a report or audit never can. The reports may show that you are performing well, but if you’re out of touch with your front line people, you may miss that they see and feel a completely different story.
Process for Getting Your People to Open Up
When you involve more people in a process, things can get complicated. If you need our help, let’s talk!
Here’s a process you can use to help break down barriers between leaders and employees in order to uncover the information you need. Added benefit – most employees will LOVE that you included them and value their input.
1-Explain the strategic planning process to employees. If someone has never served as a leader, they may have no idea what strategic planning even means. Help them understand what you’re working on before you start trying to get information from them.
2-Communicate to them that you need ALL the information in order to make the BEST decision for them and for the company. Show them how important they are to making that happen.
3-Discuss your vision statement, mission statement, values, etc. Whatever it is you use to define your organization talk about it with employees and ask them if they think each of those are an accurate picture of daily life within the orgization.
4- Show and explain to them the audits and reports you understand up to this point. Make sure you do this in a way that they can understand. They may not have the same experience or education to understand them as quickly or as well as you do. On the other hand, if you try to make it too simple for someone who is already knowledgeable enough to understand, you may hurt feelings.
5-Ask them where you’re wrong. That may be hard for you. People appreciate a humble leader. Listen carefully as you let them talk. Take notes. Learn.
6-Once the strategic planning process is finished, follow up with the employees you involved. They’ll be wondering about the outcome because they’ve now played a part in it. Don’t leave them hanging. Nobody likes that.
Successful Step One
Leaders need all of the information to make the best decisions…not some of the information, not the information they want to believe, not the information that is easy to gather…but ALL of the information. When you gather more information directly from your employees, you’re giving yourself a better chance at successfully creating and implementing your strategic plan.
Ready to take your strategic planning to the next level, I’d love to help with a virtual presentation or training session — let’s talk.
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