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  • Writer's pictureRich Haglund

Strategic plan as a verb, not a noun

(Disclaimer #1, to my grammar police sisters: I know "strategic plan" isn't a proper sounding verb. But, "use strategically plan as a verb instead of strategic plan as a noun" is too long a title for SEO maximization!)

I think every organization would be better served when tempted to make a strategic plan to take a different grammatical approach.

I spoke last week with a leader in an organization that's preparing to embark on a strategic planning process. I left the conversation wishing I'd been more helpful from the start. Instead, I found myself flat footed.

This may sound like an attempt to assuage my guilt. But, I think it's a way to articulate the philosophical disturbance in my strategic planning life force that I sensed but couldn't articulate last week!

(Disclaimer #2, to The Table Group and Manager Tools: I'm a fanboy and I hope my explanation and illustration here satisfy copyright law and don't warp your wise counsel beyond recognition!)

Before spending time and money on even thinking about a strategic plan, I recommend organizations ask themselves some questions (from the Table Group) to assess the health of the organization and to determine if the drivers even know what road the organization is currently on.

First, find out if you have a cohesive leadership team by using the model in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Second, ask the leadership team or another representative group these questions. See how well the answers align (if at all).

  1. Why do we exist?

  2. How do we behave (toward each other)?

  3. What do we do?

  4. How will we succeed?

  5. What's most important, right now?

  6. Who must do what?

Third, if there's a lack of alignment, the most important thing to do is likely to get clarity on the first four questions. If there is alignment, then it's time to answer questions 5 and 6. And get to work!

For managers, I believe firmly in consistently using effective management practices that enable all your team members to thrive and to get the best results for the organization. I believe in the models for one-on-ones, feedback, delegation, and coaching from Manager Tools. When asked what it's like to work in your organization, every employee should have similar answers because they're all supported by great managers consistently investing in their people all the time while focused on results.

I've put this approach into the diagram below.

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