BY REED DESHLER
As an organization works to establish its position and direction in the marketplace, the strategic business planning team takes on great importance. Diversity of thought and attention to organizational implications are keys to ensuring a solid strategy, an effective organization, and an enabling culture.
For this reason, a company must choose the right people to make strategic decisions. These decisions concern both the strategic direction and priorities of the organization and its structure and governance. With the right strategies and organization, leaders can not only capture the hearts of employees but also deliver on the expectations of customers.
Your strategic business planning team
Consider these points to create a strong team:
Having the right people on your strategic business planning team is essential. What challenges does the organization face today? What will it need to overcome tomorrow? The strategic business planning team will determine the structure, governance, and path of the company. The members must unanimously be aligned with the organization’s goals and inspire employees to embrace the company’s strategy and processes. Choosing the wrong team members, or having a team that is too large, will stall or halt the process.
Teams comprised of top and mid-level leaders can be very impactful. Leadership comes from all levels of an organization. Even in a traditional, vertically integrated business model, leaders certainly exist—perhaps unrecognized and unsung—beyond top executives. By involving mid-level leaders in strategic planning, the organization can more unanimously align with the adopted processes and behaviors. Leadership behavior exerts a strong force on culture, so selecting leaders who can reach and relate to every level of the organization will drive success.
Power, personality, and point of view are desired variances. Be wary of the obvious. If your company has always been governed by the same group of top-level executives, choosing this group will not lead to desired change. Examine who the influencers are in every level of the organization. Change is difficult, and it requires valued viewpoints from all levels. The team should be made up of natural change agents who have the ability to think outside the box.
Though it seems counterintuitive, the team should also include leaders who are resistant to change. Choosing those leaders reluctant to alter the alignment of the organization provides an opportunity for them to understand and embrace the new strategic plan. External stakeholders, who often have a completely different perspective, may also offer a surprising and essential analysis of the company.
Individual team members should possess certain characteristics. Strategic business planning often shakes up an organization. Select team members who are able to embrace a new direction. These should be personalities who do not settle for the status quo and are always interested in improvement—those who believe that business as usual is not good enough.
You are interested in employees who can take a broad perspective. Your team members should be able to communicate, listen, and debate. Ideally, the best interests of the company should be placed before the personal interests of the team members or those whom they work with. For this to happen, the team members should be able to commit to the company’s strategic plan and embrace the change that will come with it.
The success of strategic business planning hinges on the composition and commitment of the team. Compiling this group of people will ultimately determine the direction of the organization. Through the strategic business planning process, your team should be united and committed to determining and achieving the goals of the organization.
About The Author
Principal of AlignOrg Solutions, Reed Deshler specializes in developing strategic organization designs and helping companies bring them to fruition. As an organization consultant, he works with executive teams and HR teams to define winning strategies, align their organization and business models for success, and mobilize employees and stakeholders in the desired direction. He’s guided Fortune 500 companies—including 3M, Abbott, Hertz, Chevron, Cisco, and General Mills—as well as middle-market businesses and nonprofits through change successfully and helped them solve complex organizational challenges. Deshler is co-author of Mastering the Cube: Overcoming Stumbling Blocks and Building an Organization that Works, a guidebook that outlines AlignOrg Solutions’ organization alignment process. He regularly writes and speaks on issues related to organization transformation and ways to implement—and create buy-in—among stakeholders for new business designs. Learn more about becoming an Alignment Leader.