Before each strategic planning workshop that I facilitate, I make a heap of phone calls to those who'll be contributing to the process. Be they Board Members or the Exec Management Team or key external stakeholders trusted for their perspectives, I ask variations of a few fundamental questions. What does the entity do really well / what are its superpowers; what are the major opportunities / challenges / risks you can see looming on the horizon; what are the critical Start / Stop / Continues from your vantage point? To wind it up, I ask the workshop goal question.
"Knowing who's in the room and why we're there, when we all walk out of that room at stumps, what more than anything do you want to have achieved?"
About 85 - 90% of respondents immediately give me a variation of the three words in the title. The other 10 - 15% get there quickly with minimal witness-leading.
Clarity. "Let's make decisions - a set of higher order choices. Let's assess those decisions and be clear that they're right. Let's determine the focus paths. Let's prioritise. Let's not be uncertain or equivocating or confused or in two minds. Let's know exactly what we're committed to doing and not doing."
Unity. "Whatever we pick, wherever we land, whichever focal points make that "we will" list, from that point forward, we are all spruiking the party line. We will continue to test our thinking and alternatives with robust discussion in the sanctuary of a closed-door boardroom under Chatham House rules, but when we present to the rest of the world, we will stand as a single, echoing, aligned voice. That's for the sake of our organisation, for our team's sake, and for the market to hear us clearly (for the consequences of real or perceived fractured leadership vantage points or discordant messages are almost always catastrophic)."
Activity. "If we decide we're going to do something, we'll do it. We won't leave that room riding a loose wish list of hopes, dreams and maybes that we don't genuinely believe will become reality. We need to move on our choices, implement our agreed standpoints, drive the intent underpinning our resolutions with actual movement. We don't need a 457-point actions list, but damn, we better know what the right next steps are, when they're happening and who's owning them to get this show on the road."
It doesn't matter if you're selling fizzy drinks or designing cufflinks.
If you market professional advice or herbal tonics for head lice.
If your game is endoscopic scopes or height safety ropes.
If you're a benevolent foundation or trying to dominate the nation.
The gig is the same.
Help us attain clarity.
Galvanise the leadership group's commitment to unity.
Make sure we've nailed down some aligned activity.
If you are in your organisation's wheelhouse, and you don't think you have these 3 things at the level they need to be at for a bright, bullish future on the badlands of tomorrow's market...