Overcome These Nine Planning Challenges with Strategic VisioningFeb 09, 2016
Author: Laurie Durnell
Is strategic planning on your horizon? In my consulting work with organizations over the years—across sectors and from a single team to enterprise-wide—I have seen extraordinary results using Strategic Visioning (SV), a Grove visual-planning system. I have used it to facilitate many creative, engaging, agile and effective planning processes for client organizations.
Here are nine common planning challenges that Strategic Visioning can help you resolve:
1. Accomplish planning without a months-long slog. Strategic Visioning achieves results in a time-efficient manner. Even when the pressure of keeping the ship afloat may not seem to afford the time for a big strategy process, the anxiety may remain: “Is all of this feverish rowing taking us in the right direction?”
An organization that fails to plan may find itself either falling behind or not capitalizing on the opportunities that are ready to harvest and build upon. Strategic Visioning will pull priorities into front-line view and clarify the larger organizational vision.
2. Overcome people’s resistance to planning. Is your team jaded or impatient with planning meetings, yet needing to think strategically and reach alignment? Many of us have a love-hate relationship with planning and have had dissatisfying experiences with it. The Grove’s visual way of working draws out key strategic information efficiently from the most knowledgeable people in the organization. Unlike other planning methods where it can be difficult to get participants off their laptops, an interactive visual meeting keeps even impatient entrepreneurial executives engaged and involved.
3. Tailor planning to your organization’s circumstances by using SV at each stage. The versatility and scale-ability of Strategic Visioning is a beautiful thing. It can be done in an agile manner as an alignment process, or it can be used over a longer period as a framework to develop strategic thinking at greater depth. SV’s high-involvement and creative approach creates pathways for communicating across levels of hierarchy. In the early phase of a change process it can be used to clarify the call for change, then galvanize agreement on what needs to change. It can then be used as a communications tool to engage a wider audience in the aspiration of the change, the anticipated benefits, and key steps in the change process.
4. Get cross-functional teams, divisions and programs working in alignment. Do your functional or departmental silos need a structured way to share insights that doesn’t end up either in dismissive behaviors or bickering? People gain valuable insights from the exchange that happens among team members in different functions, projects, and product lines who often work separately. The marketing group, sales organization, IT department, implementation teams, and leadership teams all have different perspectives on the key drivers of change and how they interact. Strategic Visioning brings these different organizational perspectives into dialog. The strategies that are ultimately selected reflect a holistic view of what will make the organization or team successful.
5. Defuse naysayers’ impact. The Graphic Guide® templates (1) used in Strategic Visioning include space to record the inputs of cynics and naysayers. When they are acknowledged yet contained in this manner, it defuses the sidetracking that can otherwise occur. Their perspectives are incorporated in a way that does not overwhelm the process.
6. Bring your organization’s priorities to life and translate corporate strategy so it gets traction. Have you ever presented your strategy with great fanfare only to see it be received with a whimper rather than a bang? Or have you ever been given a strategy by the leadership team that was so vague that it left you saying, “What does this mean for us, and what do we do now?” Strategic Visioning creates a ladder linking the inspiration of lofty goals with a practical path to implementation. I have seen palpably relieved and energized people make comments such as, “Oh, now I see where we are going and how we can get there.”
7. Clarify priorities in a way that nurtures innovation. If people do not have a clear sense of the path forward, they become cautious. When they do not know what risks are safe to take, they take incremental steps rather than the kind of leaps that it generally takes to have a successful, transformative strategy. With a clear set of agreed-upon initiatives, they can be confident in going out on a limb to achieve them. Staff members who are responsible for implementation can move forward knowing that they are working on the right things and leadership is behind them.
8. Create follow-up communications with ease. Materials that convey the organization’s vision and strategy are a snap to produce from Strategic Visioning’s artifacts, especially when the leadership team has participated in the meetings. The organization moves forward with a true-north vision that is feasible, strategically savvy, easy to communicate, and emotionally compelling.
9. Do a strategic refresh periodically. Strategy isn’t something that you do just once and then you are done. Having had a successful SV experience, numerous clients have come back to us—from annually to three-to-five years down the road—to refresh their vision and strategy.
Ultimately, Strategic Visioning is a process of constantly seeking opportunities, and of determining what to say “yes” to, what to say “now” to, what to say “later” to, and what to say “so long” to. Doing this kind of big-picture work in a facilitated visual meeting makes these tough decisions easier.
(1) Graphic Guide® templates are used as both brainstorming and summarization tools. When mounted in a room, they create an instant decision-support environment. A complete step-by-step Leader’s Guide accompanies each Graphic Guide.
Want to know more about Strategic Visioning? Download the brochure.
More Strategic Visioning Resources
Attend a Grove Strategic Visioning workshop.
Browse through the Graphic Guide® templates used in our Strategic Visioning process.
Design a planning process using the Strategic Visioning Agenda Planning Kit.