Shaping Company Culture Through Strategic Planning
October 12, 2023
Shaping Company Culture Through Strategic Planning

Welcome to The Pulse, your bi-weekly newsletter of Insights for Strategy Leaders. And welcome to all of the new subscribers since last week! Let's get into it.

In this edition:

  • Shaping culture through strategic planning
  • Tips to balance planning for 2024 and finishing 2023
  • What made the 2nd-most popular Aspiring Ops special
  • Link to previous editions

Shaping company culture through strategic planning

As a company dedicated to Strategic Planning, it’s pretty common for me to find myself in conversations with other Leaders who are looking for ways to amplify the impact of their Strategic Planning process.

Especially during this time of the year, when so many Leaders are turning their attention towards 2024 Planning, I often find myself at the center of both tactical and philosophical discussions on the topic of Planning.

And I love it.

We built Elate from the pain we felt firsthand, so I’m always incredibly grateful for the opportunity to delve deep into discussions. (our story if interested).

However, while I often find myself discussing questions like “What planning framework have you seen work well for a company like ours?” or “How far down in the org should we roll out our strategic plan?” One area that is rarely explored in these conversations about strategic planning is the cultural implications.

During a recent Strategic Planning panel hosted by our team here at Elate, we were fortunate enough to hear from world-class leaders. One of the most significant takeaways was that while strategic planning often follows the path of people, process, solution... the reality is that the culture you create by involving employees in the process sits above it all.

Every decision made, from your framework to communication, and even the involvement of team members, is a direct reflection of the culture you are establishing as an organization.

If you build a plan in isolation at the Leadership level, you shouldn’t be surprised when employees feel disenfranchised or disconnected from the company’s direction.

If you completely change your process for Strategic Planning each year, don’t be caught off guard when employees don’t buy in because they view it as the latest shiny new toy.

Frankly, if the past year has taught us anything, it’s that when companies must pivot, or worse, reduce headcount, slash budgets or freeze spending, the true foundation of their planning process is exposed - and with it, the culture it was built upon.

I love diving into Strategy conversations with other Leaders. But rather than overcomplicating the process or fixating on every detail, I start by trying to understand culturally what the company is all about.

So, how do you avoid it?

Well... it takes effort... but at the end of the day, there are certainly core principles to anchor around when going about setting your Strategic Plan.

Your true north should be set at the leadership level, and success for the upcoming year should be defined by that team with 3-5 key annual Themes. Nothing changes here.

But many times the results of that meeting aren’t relayed to the company, nor are other team members involved in helping bring it to life.

Then, Department leads (or the next level down) should have a role in collaborating with their teams to define how their department(s) will contribute to those goals.

Now, rather than sitting on the sideline or simply being mandated to carry out certain work, regardless of the impact, the employees are a part of it.

And lastly - once the strategy is set, everyone should know how to access it, and understand their role in executing upon it.

I wrote more on this topic recently in a blog post on How Strategic Planning Impacts the Culture. However, this won’t be the last from us on this topic…If you have questions or thoughts, I'd love to hear them, in addition to what's top of mind for you right now.

Striking the right balance between 2023 execution and 2024 planning ⚡

It's that time of the year when many leaders struggle finding the right balance between closing out the current year strong and setting up the following year for success.

Not only are you tasked with sustaining the same level of reporting on today's key initiatives as they were in Q1 through Q3, but you also shoulder the responsibility of:

  1. Orchestrating strategic offsites.
  2. Fostering collaboration across every team and department to establish 2024 objectives.
  3. Ensuring that the strategic direction resonates throughout the entire organization to align priorities, and much more.

If this resonates with you, here are a few tips on how to balance this.

The 2nd-Most Popular Aspiring Ops episode of all-time (a countdown) 🎧

In the last edition I unveiled the the 3rd most popular Aspiring Ops episode of all-time, and I’m excited to be back to continue our countdown. 🎉

This week we move to #2 on the list, Episode 43, Creating an Environment for Talent to Thrive ft. Dr. Bill Murphy, COO of Indianapolis Public Schools.

With a unique view of Operations at one of the larger Public School Systems in the country, Dr. Bill Murphy shares some of his leadership philosophies that have helped create a culture rarely found within public school systems.

A few of those include:

👉 Embrace the "lead learner" role - be confident in what you DON'T know and allow others to teach you. That creates trust.

👉 Give people responsibility to make decisions related to the environment they work in. That creates ownership.

👉 Don't always be focused on "doing" - focus on removing barriers to enable others to "do". That creates opportunity.

👉 Normalize falling short - "it's not just about hitting goals but about what having that goal makes you do". That creates resilience.

Read the episode takeaways and keep up with the countdown

And for those that may not be aware, we have a YouTube playlist called "Aspiring Ops Shorts" with 37 valuable snippets from most episodes.

That's all for today. Hope you're having a great week.


PS. if you have found The Pulse valuable and wouldn't mind subscribing on LinkedIn I'd greatly appreciate it. Each subscriber helps us expand our reach and continue growing this awesome community.