What Can a Strategic Planning Facilitator Bring to Your Business?

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One of the most important aspects, if not the most important aspect of any business is a business’ ability to get things done. In order to do this, many companies have a required planning system so that the progress of a goal can be monitored and checked for efficiency and needs. These plans are great tools for any company, but the problem with them lies within the devising of them. Being able to write a good plan is a skill that many people lack. Luckily, for leaders who struggle with coming up with plans to reach attainable goals, there is strategic planning training.

Strategic planning training is a great way to learn how to make the goals of your business a reachable because a facilitator will show you the steps that you need to take in order to get there. These strategic planning facilitators can coach you on one plan or on your technique in general and they follow a program that is designed to make creating a plan a simple and easy task that will translate into real world results. A common tool that you might learn from one of these experts is The Driver’s Model.The Driver’s Model is an important tool when it comes to strategic planning training. This is simply a formula that will assist almost anyone in coming up with a plan that will allow you to make the steps to achieve your business goals easy and effective. Leadership strategy facilitators want you to achieve your goals just as much as you do, and that is why this method is so easy and effective, as well as translatable to everyday planning. There are three phases in the Driver’s Model.

Phase one deals with the current situation of a business. This is the phase that a strategic planning facilitator would ask you and your company, “Where are we now?”

Phase Two is the goal phase, or where you determine exactly what you want out of the plan that you are creating. Strategic planning training would teach you to ask yourself and your company, “Where do we want to be?”

And the final phase of the Driver’s Model is Phase Three. This phase is where things start to get fun and you and your employees get to brainstorm and come up with creative ideas. A strategic planning facilitator would ask you during this phase in regards to your goal from Phase Two, “How will we get there?”The Driver’s Model is only one of the many lessons you can learn from these planning experts. Each and every one of them is full of tips and tricks that will help you lead your company to its greatest success. Strategic planning training can help you obtain the things that your business truly wants and needs in real time, so that success and results can be seen and growth can occur. Plans help us achieve goals and goals help us achieve productivity and innovation, which can only benefit business.

Strategic Planning: Do You Know What It Means to and for Your Industry?

As a success coach for corporate professionals, one phrase I’ve heard a gazillion times is some version of strategic planning, ie, team strategy, corporate strategist, team goals, corporate objectives, team leader, etc.

Once you hear a phrase this many times in this many ways, it can lose its real meaning – IF you’re not focused on what it means specifically for your business. So today, that’s what we’ll discuss, ie, what strategic planning means to and for your industry.

Following are three key insights to help you stay “strategically focused” (pun fully intended).

I. Objectives: One way to really capture what strategic planning is for your particular sector is to look at your plan’s stated objectives. Ask yourself, “What are our goals and why?”

Once you understand what your objectives are, you can work your way back to central questions like, “How does what we do impact “x”? For example, does what your company do impact a specific group, a specific economy, a specific environment?Your strategic plan is a living, breathing document of where your company wants to go and how it proposes to get there. But, it’s specific to something, someone, some group; knowing who or what that is is key to knowing what your strategy means to and for your industry.

II. Individuals: People carry out strategic plans; not machines, not robots, not technology. Ironically, human beings are the engine that drive all this other stuff.

What does this have to do with knowing what strategic planning is within a specific industry? Well, different companies/industries require different skill sets. One only has to understand the formal definition of what this professional does to see this.

What Is a Strategic Planner?

According to the article, Careers in Strategic Planning, on the site Careers-in-Business, what these professionals do is described in the following manner:

Strategic planners analyze and evaluate internal business plans. This involves financial forecasting, market analysis, competitive intelligence analysis, looking at M&A proposals and feasibility analysis. There is also substantial focus on vendor relations, logistics and supply chain issues and geographic expansion. There is a lot of common sense “gut feel” work here too.

As you can see, this is a broad skill set that involves hard and soft skills.

If you’re a team leader, are you hiring the right people for the job?

If you’re a corporate strategist, are you in the right field?III. Emerging Trends: One way to stay ultra-focused on what strategizing means for your industry is to always keep your ears and eyes open for emerging trends. This is important for a number of reasons – especially from a leadership perspective, ie:

(a) It keeps you in tune with which way to steer the corporate ship;

(b) It allows you to take advantage of industry opportunities;

(c) It helps you to fine-tune company objectives; and

(d) It aids you in developing or expanding ‘strategic’ partnerships.

This last objective is particularly important because we live and work in a global economy now. You never know when – or from where – your next big alliance is going to arrive.

Realizing what’s strategic “in and for” your industry prepares you to meet these challenges and opportunities head on.

Strategic Planning – The Leadership Team

One of the first steps in developing a great strategic plan is forming the leadership team. If you’re the leader in your particular part of the organization, you probably have some subordinate leaders who you direct. You probably also have some people who you consider to be trusted advisors. But have you actually formed a team to help you with the day-to-day leadership of the organization? Silly question you say? Not really. I’ve found too many organizations in which the senior leader takes most, if not all of the leadership on him or herself. This not only places too much of a burden on one person, but also prevents the leader from taking full advantage of the expertise available in subordinate leaders.

For strategic planning, it is essential to form a leadership team to ensure the planning process has the full advantage of experience within the organization. Though a good leadership team will make the everyday operation of the organization much smoother, I’ll concentrate on the strategic planning process. This is where the team can really shine, and where they can develop a great synergistic relationship.To develop a leadership team, the leader must first select the members. I’ve found it best to use leaders at the next level under me. These are the men and women who you rely on to make the organization work and they’re the ones with the knowledge of each function within the organization. You may also want to include a few staff functions, though this is strictly optional and really depends on the situation. For example, you may decide the comptroller should be a member to ensure continuity. I also like to include my secretary for a couple of reasons. He or she can keep track of meeting minutes and administrative details. More importantly though, senior secretaries are often some of the best informed people in an organization. They will probably have insights that no one else does. Take advantage of that knowledge.

How your leadership team interacts with you and each other is a critical factor in the success of your strategic planning efforts, and that is largely the result of your leadership style. You want the team to be comfortable discussing things openly, and you must encourage them to do so. You must make it clear to them that their honest input is required in order to make the strategic planning process work. Actions speak louder than words though so you must also demonstrate this. The best way is to accept all input at face value and encourage frank discussion among the team members without adding your own thoughts. This is difficult, but as soon as the senior leader weighs in with an opinion, the discussion tends to stop.

I like to use the technique, sometimes called silent brainstorming, where each member writes down some ideas or key points. Then the leader or meeting facilitator asks each member to tell the group one of their ideas. Each is written down at the front of the room with no discussion until everyone has exhausted their list. Discussion can then begin on the merits of each point. This tends to remove the individual from the equation and concentrate discussion on the point. The senior leader must encourage this discussion.When completing a strategic plan, I have found the best first step for the leadership team is the mission statement. Creating a mission statement allows each team member to discuss their area of expertise and how it fits in the bigger picture. By the time the statement is complete, the leadership team has usually developed a good relationship between themselves and the senior leader.

One of the benefits of using a carefully chosen leadership team to create the organization’s strategic plan is that the experience will help to cement a great relationship among the leaders that will be an enormous benefit in the future. You’ll get a great strategic plan and a dynamic team of leaders to implement that plan!