Most people assume that strategic planning involves strategic thinking. Oh…..if only that was true. Unfortunately most organizations view strategic planning as a way to answer the question, “how do we keep doing what we’re doing better – or more effectively – or with higher value?” Too few engage in any strategic thinking. Why? Because strategic thinking is scary….and difficult. To “think” strategically an organization must:
- Look beyond environment or market it usually looks at – beyond the borders of its profession or industry for signals of what’s impacting other professions and other industries and other markets….that will send waves up onto the organization’s beach
- Reframe current assumptions, beliefs, mindsets & situations – and is there anything more difficult than asking if your current and long-held beliefs hold true?
- Analyze information & data from multiple sources to identify patterns & interpretations
- Use this information to decide what is valid, what isn’t valid… and, what they must continue to do and not do
- Determine trade-offs and alliances that will move decisions forward; that’s right – trade-offs; what the organization will hold to and what it can bend on
- Learn – constantly listening & looking for the good, the bad and the downright ugly – & incorporate what they find into approaches, services & decisions
This is hard work and requires diligence and exercise. An organization doesn’t learn to think strategically overnight.
You can imagine, then, the pains in my stomach when I’m asked to lead a large group of 175 people through a strategic thinking exercise at 8:00 a.m. for 90 minutes. However, 90 minutes is a starting point – and time enough for people to look at the big, broad environment, and to begin to question its assumptions and mindsets. Last week that’s just what SLA’s Leadership Summit did. We began by watching the 2014 Did You Know, and then worked through these slides: