Five Principles of Strategic Planning to Create Successful Outcomes

February 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Leadership, Strategic Planning

What makes strategic planning successful, and what are the outcomes when it is successful?


Principles of Strategic Planning:

What are the principles and techniques that unleash the power of strategic planning and ensure its usefulness not just to “create a plan” but actually to transform an organization?


The five principles below come out of the actual experiences of successful organizations, the rich literature on strategic planning, and new methods for bringing people together in constructive, creative ways.


1. The plan, the written document that strategic planning produces, is only 50% of the product. The other half is the revitalization experienced by the people in the organization: a fresh perspective, a new appreciation for their work, a new sense of possibilities, and renewed commitments.


2. The “whole system” participates, at least by representation. Organizational transformation and renewal require widespread involvement, rather than a traditional strategic planning committee of 10-12 people.


3. Organizational leaders sponsor the planning process: they explain its importance in the life of the organization, forecast its benefits, participate fully, and follow through on its outcomes.


4. Participants are invited to take a positive, appreciative approach, based on rediscovering together their passion about their work and the organization. The emphasis is on finding common ground and building from it. Strategic planning is less about solving problems and more about tapping into what Tom Chappell, CEO of Tom.s of Maine, calls “the soul of a business,” discovering people’s shared values and helping them create the kind of organization they truly want.


5. The planning effort should match the needs and resources of the organization. There are a variety of planning methodologies, including among others the Appreciative Inquiry summit, future search, and open space technology. All of these “work”; they are proven methods of bringing people together for planning and change. Finding the best “fit” between an organization and a method brings creative results.  


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