Conventional management thinking relies upon strategic planning as the primary method to align company resources to achieve business success. I support this thinking for the most part but I believe the strategic planning process may not consider all of the issues that it should. The typical strategic planning process may not surface key organization shortcomings that need to be addressed and resolved or they will handicap the organization and keep it from achieving its goals and objectives.
The leadership team may be transparent and unencumbered by political infighting, however, peer pressure may be present to some degree, keeping certain issues critical to a successful strategic planning process from surfacing. Bias, (always present in some form), is also a key factor that needs to be neutralized or it will distort how controversial issues are viewed.
Organization Diagnostic Tool
A great addition to the strategic planning process is the use of a diagnostic tool to contrast the strategy, design and culture of the organization as viewed by three critical parties:
This multi-dimensional view of the organization provides excellent input to the strategic plan process. It will also aid in clarifying and aligning interests between the parties, which may be hindering plan adoption, and achievement of objectives.
This diagnostic tool is extremely effective in highlighting areas of disagreement within the organization about what are the priorities of the business, how critical resources are aligned and if consensus exists. The diagnostic tool uses anonymity of the respondents to counter the effect of peer pressure. The questions are designed in such a way that the effect of bias is minimized.
How does diagnostic process work?
Participants (CEO and leadership team at a minimum) complete an online questionnaire covering over 75 issues related to strategy, design and culture. For example:
|Strategy||Vision, Mission, Customer Service, Production, Marketing, Strategic Advantage, Sales Effectiveness, Customer Profile, Research & Development, Planning, Resource Alignment, Execution, Market & Competitive Analysis, Finance|
|Design||Leveraging Core Competencies, Organization Communication, Shared Knowledge, Required Technology, Outsourcing Profile, Structure Alignment, Policies & Procedures, Roles & Responsibilities|
|Culture||Ability to Change, Employee Feedback, Informal Communication, Performance Management, Building Teams, Coaching, Management Modeling, Recruitment, Values Credibility, Empowerment, Orientation, Training & Development, Reward Systems.|
The results are published to the participants in two ways:
The impact grid reveals high pay-off areas for performance improvement. A high impact category (i.e. vision) should have a high score and fall in the upper right quadrant. High impact categories that fall into the high-impact low score quadrant (red items) indicate a pay-off opportunity for performance improvement.
The red objects represent the pay-off areas for performance improvement. Discussing each of these areas with the leadership team results in critical findings that can be used to make changes, solve disagreement, improve consensus and align resources for performance improvement. The table below lists several examples from an actual use of the diagnostic tool that resulted in constructive change in an organization and performance improvement.
|Organization||High Impact-Low Score Characteristic||Result|
|Strategy||Sales||The leadership team considered sales a strength but it was the responsibility of an over worked executive who had limited time to devote to increasing revenue. They recognized it was time for it to be assigned to one person. A decision was made to off-load the executive and add an experienced full time sales person.|
|Design||Shared Knowledge||This was rated as high impact with a high score, but when pressed it was became apparent there were obstacles in sharing knowledge within the work group. A decision was made to emphasize cross training on their knowledge base.|
|Culture||Feedback||The leadership team considered they were very effective at coaching but scored low using feedback well. A decision was made to emphasize encouraging feedback in work group meetings.|
This diagnostic process enhances the effectiveness of the strategic planning process and perhaps more importantly, establishes a baseline, which facilitates forward comparisons. The organization can have the same CEO, Leadership team and key employees use the diagnostic process at intervals (i.e. every year) to measure improvement and make adjustments in their plan where necessary.
The CEO in particular has the opportunity to measure the degree of disagreement between their view and that of the leadership team regarding a particular capability and its impact on performance. This separation would alert the CEO to a problem area where they should devote attention to resolve.
The discussion above provides a brief look at the power of using a diagnostic tool to improve the strategic planning process and the effectiveness of the leadership team to achieve business objectives.
In today’s economic environment it is essential to make sure your organization is focused on the right issues that affect the success of your business and that the correct priorities are established and agreed upon to improve individual, team and business performance.
Maximize your strategic planning process by using the best tools available to improve the ability of your business to achieve business success.
Take advantage of all available resources and tools to ensure your organization is “teed up” for success.
Author’s Note: Please click here to learn how you can take advantage of this process to make your organization more effective and to also learn about a similar diagnostic tool designed for leadership improvement.