It’s that time of year again … when many companies begin their annual strategic planning cycle that culminates in the real objective – the annual budget. Huge amounts of time and energy are spent at executive offsites and Business Unit summits where management tries to describe their vision for the next one to five years and then struggles to describe it as crisply, efficiently and brilliantly as possible. And, truth be known, many more hours word-smithing these plans in hopes that they can deliver inspiration as well as direction.
But what about last year’s plans? Despite all the effort and resources that went into making them, were they universally and completely achieved? If they did kindle inspiration, did it result in successful execution. Based on the vast majority of organizations that I speak with, the answer falls somewhere between a resounding ‘No’ and a meek snicker. Yet the cycle begins afresh each year – unchanged, despite less than exemplary success, because … that’s the way we did it last year.
Where is the breakdown between the Strategic Planning process and realizing the promise of those plans? Although there are several factors contributing to this breakdown, the most damaging is insufficient planning.
Despite all the time spent defining the Strategic Plan and the associated budgets, many times these plans remain far too high level – the necessary detailed planning required for program and project execution are frequently rushed or skipped in the interest of “getting started”. There is also a communication disconnect. Remember the telephone game we played in elementary school where one person whispers a story to someone else then they whisper it to another? After several retellings, it is remarkable (and inevitable) that the story has changed dramatically. It is equally inevitable that as visions, goals and imperatives get communicated down and across an enterprise, they will be altered by group and/or individual’s understanding, biases, agendas, experiences, ambitions and environment. To address this, many organizations are tying Strategic Planning activities to predictable execution through a Strategic Linkage Model which decomposes the enterprise Vision(s) through mapped steps into measurable Goals, clear Strategies, discreet Initiatives and specific Metrics. The payoff is achieving goals more accurately, more efficiently and more predictably.
As companies enter this annual Strategic Planning and Budgeting cycle, there is an opportunity, a cross-roads, to change the approach. To depart from the inevitability of the existing processes and adopt an enterprise planning process that links Vision to predictable execution.
To find out more about the Strategic Linkage Model, and how it can help your enterprise achieve it’s goals and contain execution costs, contact Mark Ping, Director of Corporate Alignment (firstname.lastname@example.org)