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Bruce Holland

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Bruce.Holland@virtual.co.nz



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FIRE UP YOUR STRATEGIC PLAN BY BURNING IT

In my view Strategic Planning has never been more important. Things are moving so quickly, everyone simply must be looking forward constantly. And yet paradoxically if you want to fire up your strategic plan it may be a good idea to take it out and ceremonially burn it.

Does this sound a bit over the top? Perhaps, for the following reasons, it's not as silly as it seems:

1 It's The Process That's Important, Not The Document

Now don't get me wrong - I strongly support the writing of the plan. This helps to formulate and crystallise the thinking. If it's not written, there will be as many versions of what's important in it as there are people. But once it's written and summarised down to one page (so that it's quite clear what really matters) it should be taken out and burnt. The more publicly you can do this the better. It will be a strong symbol of three things:

  • The plan is out of date as soon as it's written.

  • It may be our best guess about what's important today and what we should do about it but we must not become constrained just because it's in the plan.

  • It's the process that matters (getting everyone involved and thinking about how together we can be far more successful) more than the words.

2 It Should Be Recorded Inside Every Person Not In A Document

When i say inside every person, I mean that it should be inside every head and influence every heart and soul.

If you want to test whether someone is in control of their business ask them what their mission is and what their strategies to achieve it are. If they dive into a cupboard for a file it's a sure sign that they don't really know.

Plans only work when every thing, every person does, every day is done with the mission and strategies firmly in mind. If the manager has to dive into the cupboard to refer to it you can imagine how little the rest of the people know about it.

When I say "every person", I mean every person. This includes people in gumboots and overalls as well as managers. In my experience some of the best suggestions come from people who (quote) Wouldn't have anything to contribute. Today, when brainpower is our major asset, it simply does not make sense to exclude up to 90% from the process. Often in my experience managers do not believe the extent of untapped contribution until they have seen it with their own eyes, so it's often easier to sell "involvement in the process" on the basis of "ownership" which is a reason well worth while anyway.

When I say "every person", I mean every person. This includes the whole person - physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Most of the power comes from the last two, yet traditionally strategy has been almost entirely intellectual.

3 It Should Be Short, Simple And Elegant

When I draft the Strategic Plan for a client I nearly always summarise it down onto one page. It's important not to equate simple with easy, simple is actually much harder than complicated.

The image I'd like you to have is a series of one page summaries all linked and cascading down:

  • One page summarising the organisation's vision and strategies

  • One page for each business unit showing how the business unit fits into the organisation's vision and the strategies to meet the organisation's strategies

  • One page for each team showing how the team fits into the business unit vision and the strategies to meet the business unit's strategies

  • One page for each person showing how the person fits into the team's vision and their strategies to meet the team strategies.

If it's this short people will remember it without reference, so you might as well burn the paper version. Only trouble is it's so small you won't get very warm!

I really enjoy your comments and feedback so give me a call on 0800 4 virtual.

Very vest wishes for 2003.

Bruce

Bruce Holland

Helps large organisations be focussed, fast and flexible. Places where people have more meaning, depth and connection.

Expert in Strategy, Structure, Culture and Leadership Development.

One of NZss most experienced change agents.

Liberating the Human Spirit at Work

Key words: strategy, strategies, business strategy, business strategies, strategy management, strategic management, strategy development, implementation.

 
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