The Case for Strategic Planning: Now, More than Ever
By Joe Krause
Strategic planning is more important now than ever.
I’m pretty sure I can feel your eyes rolling and hear you saying, “Strategic planning at a time like this?” We don’t have time! We don’t have the bandwidth! We don’t have the budget! We’ll just wait until we’re back in the office!
It’s hard to refute many of your questions and statements but this blog is meant to challenge your present thinking.
Why do we plan?
The case for strategic planning comes down to the purpose for planning. We plan to ensure our organization has a strong future. That strong future ensures continuous benefits from your organization’s offerings as long as possible. Benefits received from the individuals you serve and the people responsible for delivering the value.
What happens if we don’t take the time to plan?
Well, logic dictates that if planning ensures your organization has a strong future, a lack of planning puts that strong future in question. If you’re with me until this point, you realize that planning is something we can’t ignore. Now it’s time to talk about how to approach planning.
Strategy & Planning Under Uncertainty
The Harvard Business Review published an article titled, “Strategy Under Uncertainty.” Despite being published in 1997, it is extremely relevant to our current situation.
The authors contend mistakes are made when you try to make your planning process binary. In good times the future looks crystal clear, so we often try to make precise predictions.
Before COVID-19 how would I know a client had this crystal ball worldview?
Their strategic plan would be 35 pages with hundreds of items in it. Nothing screams, “I know the future!” more than an extremely long plan.
Do you know what typically happens to those plans?
They fail! They fail because the future was much more uncertain than they thought.
There’s a real reason why this happens. When you think the future is figured out you tend to underestimate risk and uncertainty.
The authors highlight a story where, “in one of the most colossal underestimations in business history, Kenneth H. Olsen, then president of Digital Equipment Corporation, announced in 1977 that “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” This displays it’s clear that mistakes can be made in good times. But that’s not relevant to what we’re experiencing now.
What approach do organizations take towards planning in times of uncertainty?
In uncertain times organizations may throw their hands up and say “the future is so unknown that we don’t need to plan.”
It’s very realistic to think that many organizations have both feet firmly placed in this reality. This scenario tempts two common scenarios. The first where you decide to be more impulsive and go with your gut instinct. The second is a state of paralysis where no decisions are made.
Proceeding with Planning during Uncertainty
If you find yourself in that position, start a conversation with someone outside of your organization. Everyone is experiencing COVID in very different ways and you’ll need to hear a variety of opinions before you pick an option.
But, all roads must lead to Rome. Find a path that ensures you pick up the planning process as soon as possible. The future of your organization is at stake, and strong planning and execution can help weather the storm.
If you’re an AchieveIt client, chat with your customer success manager and strategy consultant. For those who aren’t a customer quite yet, find a peer. Chat with an individual another company in your industry. Leverage LinkedIn to find those individuals and begin building relationships.
If you need help discussing or finding a peer, let us know and we are happy to make the connection.
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