I’m sure it’s not news to you, but the whole strategic planning process is daunting to many organizations because there are so many factors, both internal and external, that can affect results. In my role as a Professional Services Consultant, I help customers navigate through the strategic planning process and point them in the direction of two important tools that help close the strategy execution gap.
The first item is called the Capabilities Gap. This tool allows strategy professionals to view an aggregate all of their companies’ internal strengths and weaknesses in an easy to understand scatter plot. I ask my customers to rank how they think their companies are performing against the 30 capabilities of high performing organizations, in both their level of importance and development. The force ranking lets them clearly understand, “What’s most important?” and “What do we do well as an organization?” which in turn allows them to quickly spot low-hanging fruit as well as higher priority capabilities. This view makes it easy to see and clearly understand the items that need to be leveraged and fixed.
The second item is called the PESTEL Analysis which a quick way to diagnose what factors are impacting your organization from an external standpoint. PESTEL is an acronym for: Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal / Regulatory. There are a total of six factors in each bucket and you can see, in aggregate, which items have the most impact. The great part about the PESTEL is you can see what items you need to plan for and the items that simply have no impact. In my experience, knowing the items that don’t belong in your plan is one of the hardest aspects in the whole process.
I encourage you to complete these exercises within your organizations. The results you receive will allow you to walk into a strategic planning meeting completely prepared to guide the discussion. Since every person in your organization is encouraged to fill out both tools, the data you receive represent all internal voices. The collaborative nature of these exercises allows for better buy-in and pull through of your plan. It goes without saying that every planning cycle comes with limited resources and it is always great to know you’re placing your time, talent, and treasure on the right items.
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