6 Ways to find out if your organization’s strategic planning process is doing its job!


I’m sure your organization has a strategic planning process in place. And if you are responsible for this process, or if you are one of the key stakeholders in strategic planning and policy deployment, this note will help you examine and assess the impact of your organization’s strategic planning process. In simple words, you will understand the measures of success for strategic planning process.

Strategic planning process in most organizations is synonymous with the annual goal setting exercise. While these two activities have certain common threads; strategic planning process isn’t restricted to just goal setting.

Strategic planning process is essentially meant to stir the organization towards its long term goals. To be more specific; strategic planning process should help organizations to better organize themselves to:

  • Establish priorities on what organization will accomplish in the future
  • Force organizations to make choices on what they will do, and what they will not do
  • Draw the entire organization, together, around a single game plan for execution
  • Depict a broad outline that shows where resources will get allocated

Thus a strategic planning process is iterative and cyclical (occurring yearly).

In my experience, the following are some of the key measures of success for a strategic planning process:

Reliable – It is important to ensure timely completion of some of the key deliverables, such as: agreement on organization goals, identification of strategies, commencement of strategic initiatives, inputs to budgetary planning, assignment of targets to individuals, etc. These are all very time critical, and any delay can result in misalignment. It can even render the whole process counter-productive. Thus, timely completion is one of the most important measures of success for any strategic planning process.

Buy-in from Leaders – While the ownership of the organizational strategy and its deployment resides with top leaders; there should be acceptance among senior and mid-level leaders to: strategic goals, assumptions, etc. Each leader must own organizational goals, including their accomplishments and failures. Several goals may require shared responsibility among functional/business heads, apart from overall ownership. Level of participation and engagement from leaders is a good measure of their buy-in

Integrated Plan – A good strategic plan should sync with financial planning process. If we end-up with budgeted revenue or cost figures that don’t align with specific strategies; or if we have no budgets allocated for strategic initiatives, then that’s a clear indication of misalignment.

Visionary Goals –The strategic planning process should facilitate a strong linkage between the organization’s core purpose of existence; its guiding principles; and a compelling desire for a positive future; all looking beyond just “money-making”. All these require quality leadership time and bandwidth. A quick review of the nature of goals, targets, underlying purpose, etc., can reveal its effectiveness.

Flexible – Because the process involves several functions and leaders; it is likely that the tasks may not happen as per schedule. It is also likely that leaders will bring in their personal style for deployment. The governance of strategic planning, thus, should accommodate such variations, while maintaining the overall approach. Inflexibility in planning process show up during execution. Unrealistic goals, lack of ownership for failures, finger-pointing, delays in reporting performance, etc., are signs of inflexibility.

Deployment to Employees – Effective implementation of a strategic plan resides in how well we can cascade these goals to various functions, and further on to individual employees. At least, if significant roles have their performance goals and incentives linked to strategic goals; then, it is a good indication of a well cascaded plan.

Each of the 6 measures of success would help you assess the effectiveness of the strategic planning process in your organization. However, if you wish to improve its efficacy & effectiveness, then you can take up our exclusive free on-line survey to access where you stand and what needs to be improved.

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