3 Reasons Your Strategic Planning Is Negatively Impacting Your Culture
People, Process, Solution. Here at Elate, we’ve referenced the need for all three parts coming together to shape a successful Strategic Planning process that serves as a competitive advantage for your company.
What if beneath each of those areas, there is an underlying principle that influences the end outcome of your Strategy?
In a year that has challenged even the best of companies and caused many organizations to look internally at their current process for Strategic Planning, we’ve seen the process reveal a layer beneath so many ‘great’ processes: Culture.
In challenging times when the fire burns bright, the glitz and glamor are stripped away to reveal the close connection between Strategic Planning and organizational culture.
It shapes how your team faces difficult decisions, pivots, and the inevitable changes that occur when everything isn’t up and to the right.
We recently wrote about How Strategic Planning Impacts Your Company Culture, and we wanted to follow-up on our original post to outline three ways to identify whether your Strategic Planning is having a negative impact on your culture.
Let's jump in.
1. Isolating Strategic Planning at the Leadership Level
Nobody outside C-Suite (maybe VPs) are included in the planning process.
Done in isolation, Strategic Planning might as well never leave the room of the executive team. While we certainly recommend starting the process at a Strategic Planning offsite with Executive team members, we strongly encourage that Leaders are meeting with their teams prior to the event, and getting feedback following the session.
Not only does this ensure that feedback loops create clarity for team members and an understanding of what the company priorities are, but it also allows for the supporting infrastructure to align with those priorities set by Leadership.
Far too often, we see Leaders go offsite, build their Strategic Plan on a whiteboard, and throw that plan into a bunch of PowerPoint Slides that are then presented at a company kickoff. Not only can this catch team members off guard, but it also reflects a lack of value in their opinions and input to the process.
If you want to create a culture of empowerment and visibility, then including more than just your C-Suite and VPs is a non-negotiable.
Related reading: 10 Do's and Don'ts for 2024 Strategic Planning
2. Building for the Plan, not for the Outcomes
Overcomplicating the supporting infrastructure to maximize the planning process, not the company outcomes.
As companies scale, building a Strategic Plan in isolation at the Leadership level becomes less of a problem. With more teams and employees comes the need to more broadly communicate the Strategic Plan.
However, another challenge quickly arises: building for the plan, not for the outcome.
While it might sound silly, who cares more about the process than the outcome? It’s surprising how quickly this mindset can sneak up on a company.
As you add more team members, especially those on the Strategy and Operations team, much of the directive provided to them is to sure-up the process for Strategic Planning. Further, validation of their work and performance is measured by the process being put in place, not necessarily the outcome.
In this case, it’s more important that we have a really complex process where the Strategy team is creating all of the Objectives, connecting those throughout teams, and defining ownership.
While this will certainly keep a Strategy and Operations team busy, because they are being asked to own the process from start to finish, be assured that employees won’t feel as though they are involved in building the plan.
Further, you will lack the necessary context for ultimately influencing the outcomes, because you are missing the trusted experts in their respective areas providing input.
So often the efficacy of a Strategic Plan can be lost in the grandiose nature of the process. Don’t fall victim to overcomplicating the process to optimize for the looks of ‘Planning’, rather than the outcomes themselves.
3. Lack of Clear Communication and Consistent Review
Siloed execution of the strategy without a unified view of success.
Last but certainly not least, is the negative impact of setting a strategy to only have it fall by the wayside.
The easiest way to instill a culture of visibility, alignment, and accountability is to ensure the strategy is clear and consistent.
From where the strategy lives day-after-day to the way in which it’s reviewed as a team, Strategic Planning by its very nature should bring about a sense of collaboration that tears down silos and ensures everyone knows what we are working towards together.
Many companies spend countless hours building a Strategic Plan only to have it live in spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. In these instances, the entire organization is at the mercy of a few stakeholders constantly tracking down and updating what’s happening across the business and regularly sharing that out to have any context around the Strategic Plan you spent all that time building.
Further, those team members providing the updates are tasked with spending hours upon hours chasing down commentary, updating those same spreadsheets and slides, and trying to disseminate what truly matters across teams that needs to be shared.
It’s an impossible task, because the moment they provide a static update, it’s immediately out-of-date. And it sets the precedent that we as a company care more about our employees running through a weekly roll call to ensure they did work, rather than optimizing for how we can remove hurdles or double-down on what’s working.
While these aren’t all of the challenges we know organizations face with Strategic Planning, we hope these serve as good avenues to self-identify whether a new way of Strategic Planning is needed for your company.
If you can relate to any of the above, we’d love to connect.
Whether you are at the stage of needing a solution like Elate or just simply looking for advice on introducing a new operating framework, we’re here to help. Built by Strategy and Operations Leaders for Strategy and Operations Leaders, Elate is the leading Strategic Planning platform for today’s companies.