Action with Traction Strategic Planning Consulting
Every organization is different and thus our approach to strategic planning is always unique to the organization.  Below are two examples provided to illustrate how it might be approached.  The first is for a department in a for-profit organization.  The second is for a large government organization.

Small Department in a Non-Profit Organization - An Example

Leadership team meeting.  Assuming a two step approach, the first step is a six hour session with the leadership team.  In that session, we will identify ongoing process work, list anticipated new or declining process work, and identify current or expected projects.  Given a first cut at that inventory, we will develop a
vision statement for the department, metrics to evaluate success of the
department, and finally, elements that your leadership team believe
should be included in a mission statement.  Metrics identified at this
point do not need to be refined nor even practical.  They are for
illustration purposes only. 
Homework going into this meeting will be the gathering of any strategic
or operational plans that have already been developed that are useful to
​look at as references, an inventory of process work and projects, and
​copies of any reports that include operational performance metrics. 
After the session, I will compile everything that comes out of the meeting into a draft document.  I will also work with the manager to word-smith a first cut mission statement.
All staff meeting.  The second step of the approach will be a shorter, likely 4 hour, session with all staff.  The leadership team will present the mission, vision, and inventory of current and future process work and projects they have created, including any alternatives that were develop.  They will also present the metrics, explaining why scoring well in the areas selected is important.
I will facilitate break-out session designed to gather staff input and recommendations.  Each breakout team will present their feedback to what the Leadership team presented, and the whole group will respond to it.
Second Leadership team meeting.  In this meeting, likely 2 hours in length (depending on how much feedback staff generated) the Leadership team will evaluate staff recommendations and prepare modification to the strategic plan.  Modifications that cannot be completed in this meeting will become homework.  I will compile the results into a new strategic plan draft for your review.  I will work with you and the Leadership team until we have a final document that you feel comfortable approving. 

Large Public Organization - An Example

Steering Committee. We set up a steering committee comprised of high level directors, knowledgeable citizen volunteers, and other key stakeholders.  This steering committee was assigned responsibility for providing overall project leadership, reviewing documents, making decisions, actively participating in the entire process, modeling the planning process, and communicating results.

First Steering Committee Meeting. The first steering committee meeting was focused on helping the members understand the process and reviewing and providing feedback concerning the existing mission, vision and values of the organization.  The balanced scorecard was used to drive a portion of the strategic plan development and the steering committee was introduced to that model in addition to the overall strategic plan structure, which includes strategic themes, issues, goals, strategies and performance measures with a five-year planning horizon.  This completed strategic plan is supported by an organization-wide annual business plan and department work plans, with quarterly progress reports.

Work Team Background Research.  Following the first steering committee meeting, a work team consisting of a subset of the steering committee and the consultants completed background work consisting of internal and external stakeholder interviews, internal and external focus groups, internal and external on-line surveys, and an environmental scan. For this effort, for example, 33 interviews involving 47 individuals were conducted.  Nine focus groups with a total of 103 attendees were held, and three surveys were published with 246 responses.  Finally, a 212 page environmental scan consisting of a compilation of critical topics impacting the City and similar sized cities across the nation was prepared.  Key findings were summarized from the research and eventually reduced to 35 from a much longer initial list.  Each finding was cross-referenced to the supporting research and placed in the balance scorecard framework (Financial, Customer, Internal business processes, and Learning and growth).

Second Steering Committee Meeting. In a second steering committee meeting, the research was reviewed and critical findings introduced.  The steering committee was facilitated through a process to turn the findings into strategic issues.  While the findings represent fact, the steering committee was able to identify combinations of the findings that make sense for problem solving, prioritizing some of the findings out of the five-year horizon, and rewriting the finding into strategic issue statements.  In the case of this client, sixteen strategic issues eventually emerged, which were also placed in the balanced scorecard framework.

Work Session.  A four-day work session was then held with the steering committee members and a broader contingent of client employees and stakeholders in order to analyze the
strategic issues and develop goals, strategies, and
performance measures.  This larger group was divided
into four subgroups, each focused on one of the the four
perspectives of the balanced scorecard.  These subgroups
periodically reported to the large group as they developed
their findings, followed by facilitated dialog.  Training
proceeded each portion of the work and real-time editing
was completed so details were not lost.  This effort had the
dual result of stimulating excellent thinking and developing
​strong support for the results.

Draft Strategic Plan Preparation and Third Steering Committee Meeting.  Following the work session, the steering committee subset / consultant work team completed several cycles of edits on the issues, goals, strategies, and performance measures, making sure everyone who attended the work session had the opportunity to reflect and provide input following the meeting.  Once these edits were vetted and approved by the leadership team, a third steering committee meeting was held to again review resulting materials and edit the mission, vision, and values in light of the research and new goals.

Once agreements were reached, the work team created a strategic plan document to publicize the resulting plan.  This document contained enough background research information to validate the issues.  The plan document includes the revised mission, vision and values as well as the newly developed goals, strategies, and performance measures.  Graphics and pictures were added to make the document more interesting, easy to read, and visually appealing.

Public Hearing. Public hearings and a formal presentation for approval to the elected officials was held, with necessary adjustments completed before formal adoption and publication of the plan.

Next Step

If you are interested in ​Action with Traction strategic planning consulting, please contact me.  I will be pleased to explore options and prepare a proposal, if appropriate.  

In 2009 I wrote and published a book titled Action with Traction: A User's Guide For Getting Results In Your Organization.  In this book, I outline steps organizations can take to turn strategies and into results. Written for managers, I describe step-by-step instructions, examples, and case studies to help develop a strategic plan and then get traction through effective deployment and adjustments. 

In the book, I provide recommendations on how to create powerful plans and then use those plans to delegate with a clear line of sight so it is obvious what matters.  I explain how to look at your existing work in order to identify your implicit strategies and goals, and how to then challenge what you are doing in order to get the best results.  I explain how to keep control of a large volume of delegated work and I introduce a simple approach for establishing a performance scorecard designed to guide progress.  I provide valuable but simple to use forms to keep projects and processes moving in the right direction and present a methodology for rapidly improving work.  I close the book with a chapter on managing change, wrapping up with the tools needed in order to get traction from action.

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Creating a good strategy is hard.  Deploying that strategy is even harder.  Tuning and re-tuning that strategy in real time is the work that separates okay from great.

Strategic Planning

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