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Elate puts everything you need to build your Strategic Plan right at your fingertips. From setting your long-term vision and annual goals to tracking quarterly objectives, it’s never been easier to create a plan that helps you reach your goals.
Rather than working out of dozens of spreadsheets or endless presentations, Elate helps you build a simple, intuitive plan that can be easily shared with team members.
Strategic planning is a key ingredient for success in any business. Yet, when the phrase 'strategic planning' is mentioned, executives often think of a static process that happens once a year and requires countless hours of discussion, whiteboarding, and meetings trying to get a plan in place that is rarely revisited or blown up in a few short months.
For high growth companies today, the strategic planning process is evolving. And with this evolution, comes the need for the strategic planning tools that support these companies to evolve as well.
So as leaders rethink the way their business goes about strategic planning, as well as the different tools used for the planning process, we wanted to share more on what the future of strategic planning looks like and how strategic planning tools play a critical role in success.
To begin with, we'll dive into the overall strategic planning process, and how companies are rethinking what this means for their organization.
Far too often, companies fall into the trap of searching for a strategic planning template or downloading a sample strategic plan pdf with the hopes that their strategic planning process will be different this year.
We hate to say it, but it probably won't.
The strategic planning process is designed to be an iterative, real-time process that does follow a structure or framework, but is also tailored towards your business.
Time and time again, we meet with companies who implemented (insert acronym) framework only to realize it didn't solve their challenge of building a dynamic strategic plan and successfully rolling it out to their company. Further, we see far too many companies buy into the belief that by implementing an OKR or EOS tool, it will solve all their challenges relating to employee buy-in and adoption. The idea that a tool will solve your problems is a common misconception, but one that OKR tools or performance management platforms have been promising for years.
The tool is just that, a tool. It is designed to be one part of the process, but the reality is it needs to coincide with the people and process as well. At Elate, we've found three components to the strategic planning process are critical: people, process, and tools.
We first focus on the right people being in the room for the planning process. Usually these are critical members of the leadership team who are all committed and bought into the process that is tailored to your business. From there, having the right tools in place to facilitate and enhance the strategic planning process can be a game changer. But again, the people and the process have to come first.
Far too often, we see companies glaze over or skip the first two parts and go straight to implementing an OKR tool. By doing this, the company is just creating an OKR warehouse. A place for employees to build their OKRs and throw them in with all the other OKRs that are never revisited.
The strategic planning process often begins with the annual planning offsite where your leadership team is setting examples of what the future looks like for the company. Your vision includes a 10, 5, and 3 year strategic plan example for how you accomplish the long term goals of the company. But from there, you have to implement a process that brings those long term goals and breaks them down into achievable annual and quarterly goals that can be cascaded throughout the organization.
So as we think about how we bring that into reality, let's take a deeper look at the strategic planning tools and techniques needed to help set your team up for success.
Here at Elate, we are big proponents of having a holistic strategic planning process. In order to have a holistic approach to planning, it's important to think about the strategic planning tools and techniques used to set your team up for long term success.
We think of this process in three ways: plan, evaluate, review.
For us, it begins with the overall planning process. While we see most companies kick off this process in an annual planning offsite, we are seeing more and more companies place just as much emphasis on the quarterly planning process as traditional annual planning. And we love it.
At high growth companies, strategic planning should be real-time and dynamic. That means, we should be thinking about how to make the process as effective as possible. In building this process, we push strategy and ops leaders to think about a few key questions:
- How am I pressure testing the objectives being built?
- How do I streamline the objective creation and review process?
- How do I help my team save hours, so that we can focus on taking action and evolving the plan rather than just building it?
- How do I avoid our solution becoming just an OKR warehouse?
These questions will help shed light into your current process, and whether you are simply going through the motions or setting your team up for long term success. Things like a strategic planning template PDF or strategic plan template doc are the first pitfalls to falling into bad habits.
Rather than just looking for a shortcut, think about how you’re structuring the overall creation process, and how it’s tailored towards helping your employees understand the bigger picture.
A solution like Elate helps companies understand how objectives are being structured and the impact they have on your business.
As an example, we often see that companies will set 3-5 company-wide objectives. And from these 3-5 objectives, all other sub-objectives should roll up. However, as objectives throughout the business are being created, companies often aren't looking to ensure that the sub-objectives are evenly distributed so that all of the company objectives can be reached.
We often find that because companies aren’t measuring how objectives are being built in the first place, they aren’t proactive in keeping objectives on track.
Far too often we see that as the end of the quarter approaches, companies start to realize two of the five company objectives they set are going to miss, because only a handful of sub objectives were actually tied to the overall success of those objectives.
With Elate, you would have been able to monitor the weighting and impact of every objective throughout the business to understand what adjustments were needed for your company to hit the goals they set out to achieve.
Similarly, Elate is designed to surface insights and notifications as you are in the midst of executing on your plan. With weekly reports and updates, Elate surfaces changes to objectives, and provides commentary as to why objectives improve or fall behind.
This real-time ability to interact and take action allows for objectives to be something front and center for all employees, rather than something only revisited once a quarter.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, Elate also allows for a review of overall performance of past objectives and guidance in setting your upcoming objectives.
In addition to a report highlighting the key objectives achieved or missed in a quarter, Elate also shares insights into what the right number of objectives are for your company. Whether at the company, department, or individual level, our platform helps provide guidance in how you are thinking about your upcoming quarter by sharing what worked and what didn't in regards to your company's objectives.
Again, strategic planning is a real-time, dynamic process, not a set it and forget activity.
We've covered a number of ways to ensure strategic planning goes differently for your team this year, as well as the tools and techniques that can help set you up for long term success. So let's dive into some strategic planning best practices to make sure all of your team's time and efforts don't go to waste.
Let's start with the process of selecting a basic strategic planning model for your business. At Elate, we've seen a number of different frameworks, including OKRs, EOS, V2MOM, 4DX, and countless others. One thing that's important to remember with any of these frameworks is that they should be viewed as guides, not mandates.
Far too often, companies fail to successfully adopt or rollout a structure, because they are trying to follow them by the letter of the law. Each of these frameworks provides a great foundation to begin your journey of creating an operating framework and cadence. However, any framework should be tailored towards your business and your team's needs. Be willing to modify or evolve with your framework as needed.
Additionally, strategy and ops leaders should focus just as much on the rhythm and review of objectives as you do on the creation process. If you're trying to get buy-in across your company, then you have to stick to a regular cadence for how you update, review, and take action on these objectives. If you are flippant in how you discuss your objectives, then the reality is that they will no longer be priorities. And it starts at the top.
Leadership has to be bought into the process and the rhythm of the framework, because if they aren't then the rest of the employees won't be. Employees will simply view this as just another task they have to complete and another tool they're being asked to log into each week. Adoption will plummet and the valuable insights you were hoping to uncover will vanish.
To establish this rhythm and cadence, hold your leadership accountability to a set date and time each week to review your objectives. With solutions like Elate, built-in meeting cadences that review objectives, topics, and company KPIs can provide a natural flow to your meetings at the leadership level, as well as across different teams.
Finally, be intentional about how you roll out your strategic plan to the rest of your company. We see countless software strategy examples where teams have a tool or plan dumped on them without any context.
We often recommend hosting tailored training for employees to help convey the 'why' behind implementing a strategic planning platform. The purpose isn't just to create another task for employees to complete each week. It's to help them surface obstacles, challenges, or opportunities throughout the business in a way that leadership can take action.
Further, the valuable insights being shared by employees across every level of the business can help provide the company with future direction. Identifying areas for growth or areas to pivot away from can be uncovered if employees buy into the idea and see the value of their contributions.
So as more and more high growth companies realize that strategic planning can be a secret weapon for growth, it’s more important than ever to identify the best strategic planning tools that help facilitate that growth.
Elate was built for today's strategy and operations leaders to help them navigate the challenges and opportunities they face in their business.
However, it's important to keep in mind that strategic planning is about the people, process, and tools. At Elate we have built the best strategic planning platform for high growth leaders today, and have the experience to help provide guidance in implementing the right process for your company. Combine both of these areas with your incredible team, and strategic planning truly can unlock the potential of your company.