Q. I have just been assigned to the strategic planning team for my division. What does this mean, and what will be expected of me?
A. Congratulations! You are going to part of a unique and exciting team setting the purpose and direction of your division. You and ten to twelve other people have been selected for your expertise, your position within the organization and your ability to represent your peers and the company as a whole.
Your team will meet to create the strategic plan in three phases: strategic thinking, strategic analysis and long range planning. In strategic thinking, your team will establish or validate your mission, and create the future vision. In the strategic analysis, your team will identify the critical issues facing the division by scanning the internal and external environment and gathering information about those issues. In the long range planning phase, your team will create breakthrough objectives, long range goals, action plans and measures. The strategic action plans then link into the annual operational plan.
Strategic planning is usually done within a one or two month window. Unless you have been released from your daily duties, expect to feel severe pressures that your “regular work” isn’t getting done. Much of your time will be spent in the planning meetings, but even more time will be spent in talking with others in the division, getting their ideas, enrolling them in helping you collect information and preparing a quick brief on a critical issue.
Many planning sessions are held off-site. By the end of the day, you will be more tired from thinking in new and different ways (strategically) than you probably do on a day-to-day basis (tactically). Plan on having dinner with your team because much of the creativity and alternative analysis’ occur in an unstructured environment…and it adds to the team work!
One critical element to look for: Your division leadership must be personally involved with the strategic planning process. They should have a full understanding, appreciation and commitment to the process, the results, and the resources involved, both on a personal as well as an organizational level.
It sounds like a tremendous amount of work, and it is. But if you contribute a hundred percent to the process, looking at the long-range future of your organization, many things become clear about current operations. You develop an appreciation for the long-term benefits and short-term payoffs for each and every activity, as well as develop a sense of ownership and pride in the future of your division.
Enjoy this assignment and learn as much as you can about all the aspects of your division and your organization.