The beginning of summer often offers an opportunity for employees to catch their breath after company kickoffs and really focus on hitting their stride as they go into the last few months of the year.
And while the summer months of June and July are a time to focus on executing the current year's strategic plan, the best strategy and ops leaders know that right around the corner is the annual planning session for 2022.
At Elate, we are firm believers of the acronym ABP (Always Be Planning). However, we are also advocates of taking time towards the end of your fiscal year to evaluate your company's performance to date, and align your teams around the long term goals and vision of the company.
So as we head into the fall, many strategy and ops leaders are focused on setting their team up for success as they head into 2022 planning. From reviewing strategic planning tools and techniques to building strategic plan templates and agendas, we wanted to provide a quick look into what some of the best strategy and ops leaders are looking for in the strategic planning solutions they’re evaluating heading into this year's planning.
Building Your Plan
For many strategy and ops leaders, the first question they ask when evaluating a strategic planning app is whether the solution they are reviewing can align their company. Too often there is a disconnect between the long term vision being set by leadership and the day-to-day execution across employees at the company.
From what we've found, it actually starts just after your annual leadership offsite.
As leaders head offsite to discuss next year’s plan, there is usually a healthy amount of discussion and debate over what areas of the business to invest in or shift away from in the year ahead. These ideas live on sticky notes, whiteboards, or in Google docs, but often lose the context and detail as to why they are being implemented, what key dependencies exist, or how they will be communicated across the organization.
The best strategic planning tools help to capture what's being discussed, evaluated, and agreed to in those offsite meetings, and actually help bring those back to the teams. Further, they help bring together the dependencies across different departments and stakeholders in a way that provides a complete view into what success looks like and how teams collectively can achieve their goals.
If you aren’t building your 2022 strategic plan with these stakeholders and dependencies in mind, then you will likely have a disconnect with how you will execute across teams. Further, you will be putting your organization at risk to potentially have a sizable gap in communication across your teams.
Oftentimes, strategy and ops leaders are asked to serve as the connective tissue throughout the organization, and we think your strategic software should do the same.
Company Roll Out
One of the most common reasons companies fail to effectively implement an operating framework is lack of adoption. And for many teams, the lack of adoption can be tied back to a few critical components.
First, a lack of visibility. It isn't enough to simply put a goal setting framework in place if it isn't easily accessible for employees. Too often leaders spend time building a structure for goals that helps drive a company towards executing on their annual plan, only to realize employees don't actually understand what the company is trying to accomplish and how they contribute towards success.
Additionally, we see a lot of companies that try to solve for visibility by using a free strategic planning software or OKR tool to help roll out a structure to their entire organization. The reality is that these free OKR tools don't provide value to employees.
Not only do they lack context to the long term company vision, but often they just feel like another tool employees have to update. A timecard they have to punch once a week.
The reality is that your strategic planning model and solution should help surface opportunities across your business and remove barriers for employees.
As we shared earlier, your strategic planning software should serve as the connective tissue, not only horizontally across teams, but also vertically from leadership down to individual contributors.
If you aren't selecting a solution that focuses on rolling out your strategic plan to your entire team, and more importantly, providing them with value, then you will struggle to get adoption.
To create a holistic approach to your strategic planning process, it's critical that strategy and ops leaders think about how they measure success. However, one critical distinction is that this isn't simply a dashboard or balanced scorecard software designed to retroactively report on KPIs.
When thinking about what success looks like, strategic plan tracking tools have to be able to tell the complete story.
From the overall performance and commentary of key objectives to reporting on KPIs across every team, you should be looking to pull together a complete view of performance, both subjectively and objectively.
Additionally, success can also come in the form of looking back at what decisions were made in past quarters or years. What did your team gain or lose by each decision you did or didn’t make?
This ties back to our philosophy that the entire strategic planning process should be connected.
In your team's annual offsite planning session, your team decided which objectives to prioritize and why you chose to do so. Wouldn't it be nice, not only to revisit those for the purpose of driving future conversation, but also for storing those objectives you chose not to implement? What if you had a strategic planning solution that easily allowed you to revisit those objectives and discuss whether now is a better time for your company to move forward?
By understanding the 'why' behind your past decisions, you can help your team drive future conversations and improve decision making in a way that provides a complete picture for your team.
Interested in Learning More...
As you head into fall planning, these are just some of the areas of consideration strategy and ops leaders should have in mind when evaluating a strategic planning software.
If you'd like to set aside some time with our team to learn a bit more about how Elate is working with today's leading strategy and ops leaders, we would love to connect! Feel free to request a demo today with our team!