I want to start by sharing that I was always great at executing, but strategic planning was a skill I had to build up. Using my experience, I’m sharing three small tweaks that went a long way in building up my strategic planning skills to help you do the same.
If you don’t have the time and space for strategic planning, you’ll struggle to do this successfully. Make time in your calendar for strategic planning. This might mean being comfortable with delegating some aspects of your current responsibilities. This might also mean creating more leaders in your team who can take things off your plate so you can focus on strategic planning. This crucial tweak will help set you up for success.
Examine how businesses have achieved exponential growth and made those larger jumps. Where organic growth happens when you reach out to similar clients or business groups as you’ve always done, non-linear growth may occur in areas that are not your organization’s traditional strengths. You may discover that there are members of your team who have skill sets in non-traditional areas. Or, you may find that you can guide your team into areas they haven’t explored in order to achieve non-linear growth.
If you’re asking members of your team to take on these new areas, concurrently build your team’s mindset in taking measured risk, while also building up new partnerships within and beyond your organization. Make sure that you’re listening to first-hand feedback from your talent and your clients. Are you aware of their needs and concerns, and are you successfully addressing those in this new area? In order to take measured risks, your teams will have to go the extra mile, often outside of their comfort zones. However, as a result, you will set yourself up for step growth that you wouldn’t be able to achieve organically.
The tools you choose to use can play a huge role in facilitating effective collaboration and communication of your plans across your teams and the wider organization. When making strategic plans, you’ll need a place to put down your ideas, communicate your plans upwards to your leadership, but also down to your team members who need to think about the tactical aspects of execution.
I’ve learned through my experience that using multiple tools is more effective than settling on just one. There are so many productivity and project management tools out there, each with their own use cases. Select the tools that best support your specific use case, as they will likely be most effective. You should also choose tools that you and your team will be comfortable using.
For instance, I use Miro Boards to collaborate. Our strategic plans require coordination across multiple teams with different skill sets and backgrounds, and we need ways to connect their ideas in order to quickly execute. Miro boards help us put these plans on paper and figure out how different teams will get involved in carrying out their part of the puzzle. In addition, we also use the Microsoft suite of tools – Word, Excel, Powerpoint – to build our plans and easily cascade them across the organization.
Everything your organization is building is ultimately a product, and therefore having a user-centric mindset will take you far. From a strategic planning point of view, think about what the final product you’re working towards will look like. Then put yourself in the shoes of your client or end user. What would they think of it? Central to successful strategic planning is the understanding of how your client or end user is going to be using your products and services, and solving for their challenges proactively.
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MD & Global Head of Modeling, Sustainable Investing