10 Rules for Effective Strategic Planning

Hi readers,

I have been sharing my knowledge in the area of sales management and marketing with you all for the past few weeks. I think I did chip in with elements of strategy that I shared with you.

So in order to further this discussion on the subject of strategy , I decided to share this blog with you.

Strategic planning is a time consuming and very challenging process- I would know it because I have had to lead my team in such sessions during my stint as the P&L head for a CPG business in Africa!

I figured that in order to deliver a workable strategy through and iterative process, there were certain fundamentals that one has to be mindful of in the process of strategic planning and delivery.

These 10 rules are

  • The definition. First things first. Strategic planning is any process meant to determine a company’s future direction, including its key goals, strategies for achieving them, and business plans.
  • Executive owner and facilitator. You need a member of the executive staff to own the process from start to finish, plus an objective facilitator from outside the company with expertise in this sort of thing. 
  • The team. The team must be committed to participating in the entire process from start to finish. It’s usually executive management. There can be additions but there’s a size tradeoff: bigger equals more ideas but harder to manage.  
  • Rules of engagement. The facilitator or executive owner sets ground rules or rules of engagement, i.e. attack the problem, not the person; be quiet unless you have something material to add; don’t beat issues to death; no cell phones; that sort of thing.
  • The problem and process objectives. You’re doing this for a reason. Agree on the problem statement and objectives of the process. You can also give it a name if that will help galvanize everyone.
  • Situation or SWOT analysis. Takes time, but it must be brutally honest and objective with no sugarcoating. If you don’t know where you stand versus the competition, the entire process is a waste of incredibly valuable executive time.
  • No sacred cows. Executives get too close to and emotionally wrapped up in their groups, responsibilities, programs, and products. The team has to get beyond all the subjectivity to achieve open and honest perspective. Everything’s on the table.
  • Brainstorm. Be completely open to any ideas. When they’re all listed, have each person pick their top three ideas (weighted first = 3 points, second = 2 points, third = 1 point), then add it up, take the top x ideas, assign each to an exec who develops a business plan.
  • Coalesce. Present the plans, debate, coalesce on company direction, key goals, strategies, etc. Several meetings and iterations are fine, including bouncing off the next level of management and a controlled group of outsiders to get feedback (optional).  
  • Plan and execute. Develop a set of plans for communicating the new direction down through the organization and externally, affecting organizational and behavioral change, product development and launch, marketing and sales, etc. The devil’s in the details. 

My sincere thanks to my teacher, Dr. Daniel Deneffe, Global marketing strategy director, Arthur D’Little, who inspired me to research on the subject and to present this to you all.

Thanks also to all my teachers who taught me at my alma maters, the HULT School, Boston, and IMI, Delhi.

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