Is Strategic Planning Really Necessary?

Kristi Birkeland on Sep 8, 2017 3:00:00 AM

Do you think planning is a waste of time? Would you rather just get to work?

It’s likely there is at least one person in your organization who is the “Ready... Fire... Aim!” type. Hopefully there is also at least one person who is a fan of planning, strategy, collaboration, and buy in.

Because while jumping in head first may get you some quick results in the short term, you’ll probably be pretty unhappy with the long term results of doing without planning.

Having clear goals and a viable strategy in place will allow you to:

  • Define what it is you’re working toward and the resources you need to make it happen
  • Focus your organizational time, energy, staff, and technology in the most effective ways
  • Be better able to recognize emerging opportunities and overcome potential obstacles
  • Measure results, track progress, and adjust course as needed
  • Allow you to effectively communicate this information with others

A willy-nilly, head-first approach will get you none of these things.

What is strategic planning, anyway?

Strategic planning is really just a fancy way of saying “figuring out how to make stuff happen.” No matter what you’re doing, taking the time to map out where you are, where you want to be, and what you need to do to get there just makes sense.

When you’re hungry, do you just randomly shove the first thing you see into your mouth? A piece of bread? A walnut? The toaster? Of course not! First you figure out what it is you want to eat, then you work out the details of how you’re going to pull it together. Maybe you have all the ingredients already, maybe you need to go to the store. Maybe you’re ordering pizza. Either way, what you’re really doing is some strategic meal planning.

When you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, do you just hop in the car, start driving, and hope you’ll find it? Or do you plop the location into Google Maps to see exactly where it is and how long it will take to get there? Yep. You guessed it. Strategic destination planning.

When you’re filling out your online dating profile, do you just dump a few brutally honest facts and totally random photos in there? If so, more power to you! But most people will spend a little (or a lot) of time doing some strategic relationship planning here. (This may also involve sales. And marketing. And Photoshop. But that’s another story.)

Why it matters

When it comes to making stuff happen in your business, strategic planning becomes even more important. Why?

Imagine if you left it up to each individual contributor to decide the best way to achieve the company vision. You’d have as many strategies as you have people. And who knows how many versions of the company vision?

Now imagine if you left it entirely up to the company leader or founder. As exciting and well thought out as it may seem to that person, that vision may never see the light of day or filter down to the rest of the team. Not only will staff not have input, they won’t know what the end game is or how they can help.

Setting a course for success

Google maps is the best. But it won’t just magically give you directions. You’ve got to enter the desired destination. Because in order to get somewhere, you need to know where you want to go.

If you already have a clearly defined company vision and purpose, awesome! You’re probably in the minority. If you don’t have one or it’s been a while, now is the time to do that difficult work or make sure the work you’ve done is still relevant. Before you start the planning phase.

Sometimes the hardest step to take is the first one. But once you’ve committed to getting started, it’s much easier to move forward. Besides, planning out your success just feels good.

And your online dating profile is looking better already.

 

This is the first post in a 4-part series about strategic planning. Stay tuned for more information on this topic and subscribe to this blog to receive new HR-related posts each week.

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