Benefits of Strategic Planning

Benefits of Strategic Planning

By David Willden

The benefits of strategic planning include:

  • Identification of breakthrough strategies, products and operational improvements
  • A clear road map is that is understood and passionately supported
  • Resources that are allocated as appropriate on top priorities
  • Goals that are developed based on solid research and a common understanding
  • Goals that are aligned throughout the organization
  • Employees who are focused, engaged empowered and inspired
  • Improvement and investment initiatives that are focused on top priorities
  • Risks and threats that are systematically identified and addressed

If strategic planning is conducted poorly it may be nothing more than a game of politics. Managers try to look smart and do what they can to get promoted and do what they can to protect their silos. This type of an exercise should be called “political positioning” as opposed to “strategic planning.” Instead of bringing people together towards a compelling vision and a smart strategy, it creates discord and points the organization in the direction of failure.

What is Strategic Planning?

Let’s start by separating strategy from planning. Simply put, strategy is about making decisions. It is about trade-offs. about deciding how to focus, how to be the best, how to be different, and how to best pursue opportunities. Planning is the process of deciding what actions are needed to achieve the vision.

Jim Collins’ Five-Year Study

Jim Collins led a five-year study in which he and his team “scoured a list of 1,435 established companies to find every extraordinary case that made a leap from average results to great results. To qualify, a company had to generate cumulative stock returns that exceeded the general stock market by at least three times over 15 years. The 11 good-to-great companies that we found averaged returns 6.9 times greater than the market’s.”

“There was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth,pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process — a framework — kept each company, its leaders, and its people on track for the long haul. In each case, it was victory of steadfast discipline over the quick fix.” “When people begin to feel the magic of momentum — when they begin to see tangible results and can feel the flywheel start to build speed — that’s when they line up, throw their shoulders to the wheel, and push. And that’s how change really happens.”

Some of the keys to success were:

  •     Getting disciplined people
  •     Focusing on disciplined thought
  •     Confronting brutal facts
  •     Being clear about passions, capacities, and opportunities
  •     Establishing a culture of discipline
  •     Building a culture of greatness to last

Jim states, “After five years of research, I’m absolutely convinced that if we just focus our attention on the right things — and stop doing the senseless things that consume so much time and energy — we can create a powerful Flywheel Effect without increasing the number of hours we work.” Does this point to the substantive benefits of strategic planning?

Apple

It is intriguing to learn about Steve Jobs and what has made him so successful. The response is, “there are many, but it starts with (a) focus and a near-religious faith in his strategy.” The benefits of strategic planning within Apple are obvious.

Managers Don't Focus on Strategy

A Harvard Business Review article in February 2002, “Beware the Busy Manager” summarizes a ten-year management study. The findings were that fully 90% of managers squander their time in all sorts of ineffective activities. In other words, a mere 10% of managers spend their time in a committed, purposeful, and reflective manner.

Employees Want Strategy

Gallup conducted a study of more than 80,000 managers in 400 companies to determine the most successful managerial behaviors. From that study, they drilled in on 12 key focus areas or traits – that best correlate with business success. These include:

  •     aligning each employee with the mission
  •     letting employees know what is expected
  •     tapping into the talents of employee
  •     talking with the employee about their progress

40% of Employees Focused on Strategy

A FranklinCovey study evaluated the characteristics of 52,000 managers across hundreds of organizations. More than 400,000 of the managers’ associates were asked to rank the managers. The areas where managers scored the lowest included:

  •  Prioritizing work so time is spent on most important strategic issues
  •  Providing clear expectations with employees that align to the strategy
  •  Providing feedback on how to improve
  •  Building teamwork by maximizing the talents of the workgroup
  •  An Inordinate Amount of Time Wasted Because of Poor Strategic Planning

Franklin Covey conducted a study that focused on 850 workers from many different companies and found that these workers typically spend 40% of their time on tasks related to the organization’s mission-critical objectives.

Benefits of Strategic Planning