November 10, 2017 – Colleen Niese - Blog

Is It Time for Your 2018 Strategic Planning?

Is It Time To Plan Your 2018 Strategies?


I, along with my business partner Vicki Pero, led nearly 200 professionals at the Greenbuild Communities and Affordable Homes Summit (#Greenbuild2017) this week to essentially create strategic plans that will drive social equity forward in their respective regions.  Talk about a tall task for all involved.

While we had a diverse range of perspectives - students, advocates, educators, professionals, etc. - around the tables, collectively they recognized the best way to get those strategic plans off the ground was to agree to a few ground rules.  I’ve used these guiding principles in both the private and public sector for the past 20 some-odd years and without a doubt, those teams that truly commit have built plans that resonate with all involved and when executed, moved their organizations forward materially.

Recognize the difference between an individual and community goal.  Individual goals serve just that - the individual, maybe his area of responsibility, but not much beyond that.  Community goals put the key stakeholder (e.g., ownership, customer, end user, employee) in the center and all the correlating strategies focus on meeting their respective set of expectations.  If your strategic plan strikes you as a random list of projects, you can figure out quickly if its serving just individuals involved with the draft itself or the larger community by looking at each through the lens of the related stakeholder and what he expects from your organization.

I’d rather be honest than right.  One of my favorite truisms is kind of counter-intuitive for most leaders.  I mean, most of us get paid for knowing what’s right and the bigger the title, the more weight "being right" tends to carry.  In strategic planning sessions, a healthy debate can quickly go south when it shifts from deciding what’s best for the organization to the individuals involved wanting to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong over the given issue.  I call those artificial arguments.  You can easily figure out which one is in play simply by asking which point of view is in the best interest of the company. 

Less Is More. I've written this phrase a number of times over the years and have said it in every strategic planning session I've facilitated. It bears repeating, especially for those teams emerging into a new role of setting company wide strategic plans. The rule of three works well to keep all focused on those top imperatives that must be done for continued profitability, as opposed to those that would be truly nice to have. When I've worked with teams who really believe they can do it all, I challenge them to approve just one strategy that will move the needle for each of these three key stakeholders: customer, employee and ownership. Organizations that commit to a list of three or less will have a much better chance of executing all than those that try to achieve a higher number from the outset.

If you'd like to learn more about strategic planning best practices, check out this blog: Time To Give Your Strat Plan a Jump Start? or contact on of us at Marlyn Group by sending an email to: Happy Planning!