We learn and understand concepts in so many different ways. I’ve had friends in college who would skip pretty much every class and only show up on test days. They’d blow off lectures but still ace their tests simply by reading the text book the night before the exam. Personally, I would’ve never survived without attending class. I needed to see and hear the instructor explain the ideas and lesson plans. I needed to be able to ask questions when I didn’t understand the curriculum. Each person has their own unique style of learning and understanding. There are four primary learning categories: visual, auditory, read-write, and kinesthetic. By the time we begin our careers; most people know how they learn and are able to identify their predominant learning philosophy. By the time we become managers, we need to apply our individual learning styles to understanding the status of our strategic plan.
Some people are primarily numbers orientated. Warren Buffet famously said “If you can’t read the scoreboard, then you don’t know the score”. Individuals who follow this principle are primarily focused on the KPIs, metrics and performance measures of their business plans. They tend to be financially inclined and see the value in measuring everything. This style is very popular because what gets measured is usually what gets done. This is an objective view of the strategic plan: either you hit your numbers, or you didn’t.
Other leaders examine the plan in a more detailed and operational manner. They find value in seeing every level of the plan and evaluating the entire strategic alignment of the organization. From their perspective, connecting daily activity to strategic goals is vital to a successful strategic plan. They want to see how projects are impacting the broader organizational results. They would claim that, sure, it’s great to see how the numbers are doing, but it’s also critical to examine what was done to achieve (or not achieve) those target numbers.
Dashboards seem to be the trend these days for deciphering data. Having the strategic plan in a succinct, visual format allows for many leaders to gain context. A high-level perspective often satisfies executives who are only concerned with the broader picture. Many leaders want to view the health of the organization from a 30,000 foot view perspective.
No matter what you’re learning style, it’s clear to see that a healthy leadership team is made of unique individuals who complement each other’s skillset. Knowing one’s learning doctrine helps leaders with viewing and making decisions from the strategic plan.