Your 15-point strategic planning checklist – Part 1

Strategy – and the planning associated with creating and implementing it – is all about the results, but how do you evaluate your process for strategic planning and know if it is on track or as optimised as it might be? Starting today, I will help you objectively evaluate your planning process and identify potential issues and risks that may exist in your organisation’s current planning world.

Let’s start with the following questions:

  • Have you given much consideration to the possibility that your strategic and operational plans may be far less effective than they could be?
  • How would you begin to measure the effectiveness of your current strategic planning process?
  • Is the process effective and repeatable in consistently defining meaningful goals that get achieved as expected when the plan is followed?

Scan through the checklist below and do your best to give a first-impression “yes” or “no” answer to each question.

  1. Did you conduct a current-state analysis of your organisation’s ecosystem as part of your planning process?
  2. Were all strategic goal “candidates” systematically prioritised to ensure that the “right” goals were selected?
  3. Do you have more than five strategic goals in your plan?
  4. Does your plan time frame (not your strategy) span more than 12 months?
  5. Are any of your plan goals not related directly to measurable outcomes?
  6. Do all employees within the company know the plan goals for the current plan year, and can they explain how they are expected to contribute to the achievement of the goals?
  7. Have you communicated with key business partners or suppliers of the organisation about the plan goals that might affect them, and where they could assist in the achievement of one or more plan goals?
  8. Is there any room for misinterpretation of the intent or desired outcome for any plan goals?
  9. Do any job descriptions for employees or officers of the company fail to correlate with defined plan goals?
  10. Do performance measurements for employees and officers of the company define accountabilities that tie back to the measurement of plan goals?
  11. Were the organisation’s core values and culture considered when defining the plan’s underlying execution tactics?
  12. Are all plan outcomes / goals related in some tangible way to creating value for the customers and markets served by your organisation?
  13. Does your strategic plan include detailed operational plans to support the execution of all goals defined in the corporate strategy?
  14. Are the supporting initiatives of your plan goals adjusted to account for seasonal peaks and valleys?
  15. Does your organisation have a strategic planning office or formal strategy governance structure?

Now that you have scanned the list and formed some initial response in your mind to each question, let’s go back through the list – this time with some guidance offered as to the preferred answer for each.

Question 1:

Did you conduct a current-state analysis of your organisation’s ecosystem as part of your planning process?

We are looking for a “yes” here. The odds are, you scratched your head and wondered “What is the point of doing a current-state analysis when we are planning our go-forward strategy?” At best, you might have answered with a qualified “yes”. Don’t be embarrassed if that is the case, but do consider adopting a new approach to your planning that includes the critical component of current-state analysis.

Since strategic planning models are intended to manage the strategic actions of an organisation, a thorough understanding of the current state provides the foundation on which to build. Without the starting point offered by the current‑state analysis, no real strategy or tactics can be developed.

The current-state analysis phase of corporate strategic planning involves gaining a “business truth” of where the organisation is today so that it is possible to plan effectively for moving from the current reality to the desired results. This integrated set of foundational activities is designed to accomplish the following:

  • Tack down where the organisation is today, reviewing:
    • the organisation’s vision statement
    • the organisation’s mission statement
    • the current strategic plan and goal attainment percentage
    • in the case of divisions or subsidiaries, the current alignment of strategic goals
    • the organisation’s hierarchy
    • key executive and management job descriptions
    • the organisation’s core competencies
    • key executive and management leadership competencies
    • the organisation’s cultural heuristics.
  • Additionally:
    • Assess operations and the decision process within the enterprise “ecosystem”.
    • Consider all functional areas that are involved in developing and delivering value to the marketplace.
    • Identify potential paths to achieving the desired end outcomes.

To gain an understanding of both the business ecosystem and ecocycle in the most effective manner, an internal assessment of the organisation must review organisational assets, organisational hierarchies, resources, people, culture, systems, partnerships, suppliers, business process, financial model and numerous other factors.

Likewise, an external assessment looks at the marketplace for the organisation, competitors, social aspects, the regulatory environment, technology and economic cycles.

My next post will help you evaluate your responses to questions 2 and 3. For clarification of any of the points mentioned above, email me or call me on 020 7099 2621.