A question of style…
I’ve been running a lot of strategic planning processes recently and it’s got me thinking about how important it is to choose the style of your planning process if you want to get the kind of strategy that’s right for your organisation at the point you’re at. Here are three different processes I ran around the same time.
The first was a process that took about 3 weeks from start to finish. It was very intense, very urgent and basically the strategy was decided during a week when we locked ourselves into a room and didn’t come out until we were done. I was the platoon leader. What type of strategy did this produce? Action-oriented, fast-moving and very focused on getting things done. Just right for an organisation that is currently riding the crest of a wave.
The second was a process that took 9 months. It was slow moving, very focused on process, with networks of working group engaging multiple stakeholders (and using language like that). It was more of a stately dance as people came together in intricate patterns, conversed politely, then moved off again. I was the conductor. What type of strategy did this produce? One that linked and integrated, gave a clearer focus, and delivered synergy from existing programmes rather than innovative new ideas. People felt more of a team, less in silos. Not exciting, but just right for a complex organisation following a restructure.
The third was just me and the Fundraising Director. We met 3 or 4 times for half a day and worked our way intensively through each stage of the strategy. I was the coach. What kind of strategy did that produce? A confident personal vision; just right for a Fundraising Director who needed to sell hard to trustees to secure investment.
So when you set up your next strategic planning process, don’t forget to actively choose the style of the process that is going to get you the right type of strategy.