The Real Truth about Strategic Planning: Part Two 

An average organization spends anywhere between 50 to more than 1,000 hours developing their strategic plan. And yet, so many organizations continue to waste their time producing strategies that don’t identify their barriers or the decisive actions to overcome them. They end up with beautiful PowerPoint decks that are shared in elaborate presentation events, then filed away forever.

As leadership development and strategy consultants, we know that strategy planning cycles usually start in Q3 and are in full swing throughout Q4. Before an organization begins strategic planning, we recommend that a team alignment review happens prior to Q3, or all of your hard work planning the strategy meetings will not be time well spent.

In Refinery’s strategy program, our first module is a two-day process focused on how the team is functioning right now. Are there trust issues, psychological safety issues, communication blocks? Hard conversations may have to happen, but they are necessary to move forward. This phase is not just an observation period; we always ensure our teams have homework that must be completed so that the issues are recognized and addressed. Once team alignment is achieved, developing and executing a strategic plan is actually possible.

“Before Refinery, we didn’t have a plan on how to deliver development for our people and didn’t realize many of the things that we needed to improve upon. They created a plan and outlined the building blocks of how they were going to help us improve our entire organization.” – Robert Delage, British Columbia Milk Marketing Board

Our second and third modules then focus on our four-step strategic planning process of Define, Diagnose, Leverage and Act, where we guide the team through activities and conversations that define their desired future state as an organization as well as their current state and diagnose the barriers that are standing in their way of their desired future state. We then get granular about prioritizing the most impactful opportunities and encourage the team to debate their positions on these opportunities. The last step is working on the action plans that define accountabilities for the priority opportunities and define timelines and impact on the organization’s future.

Make no mistake; this is no easy process. There is hard work involved in getting teams to narrow their focus to the most important opportunities and to be blatantly honest about what is actually standing in their way of success. But in the end, the strategic plan is something that the team can rally around and support because they put rational thought into examining their current and future condition—not only as a business but as a team.

“(Refinery)” led us through a structured strategic planning program that allowed our new team to look ahead at what’s possible for our company while focusing inward on building trust, cadence, and structure. Still tonnes of work to do, but they gave us the tools to give us a fighting chance.”—VP of Corporate Development and Strategy, Global E-Commerce Company.

To learn more about Refinery’s Strategy Services, click here.

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