How to engage everyone in developing strategic plans

– Updated 06.08.2020 – Estimatet readtime: 4 min

Without goals, it is meaningless to plan and without a plan it is highly uncertain whether the goals will be achieved. All companies with ambitions must therefore have a strategy process that identifies the right goals and the right initiatives.

In this article, we give you an overall description of what a strategy process is – as well as the requirements for the process to develop the best set of action plans.

What is a strategy process?

A strategy process [1], [2] consists of activities to set goals, plan, implement, follow up and revise. The process must have a design that answers the following questions:

  1. How do we set our strategic goals?
  2. How do we identify internal and external critical success factors?
  3. How do we develop and coordinate our plans?
  4. How do we communicate our plans with goals and initiatives?
  5. How do we ensure implementation of our plans?
  6. How do we adjust to being able to change direction quickly?
  7. How do we align ourselves to learn from our and others’ experience?

Management’s responsibilities in the above are three-fold. One responsibility is to design the overall strategy process and link it to the milestones that apply to the treatment and follow-up of plans and budgets in the company’s board of directors.

Secondly, it is the responsibility of management and the board to set long-term strategic goals and identify critical success factors. The long-term goals are added to “split” into annual strategic goals. The same is done for dealing with the critical success factors.

The third formal responsibility is to engage the organization in the subsequent work on defining sub-goals, detailing and implementing plans. This part of strategic work is often called strategy deployment.

A prerequisite for the best possible implementation of strategy deployment is that strategic goals are based on insight, are objectively measurable, limited in time and realistic.

 

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Critical success factors are external and internal factors that must be addressed to increase the likelihood of achieving strategic goals. Some critical success factors have an importance and/or nature that leads the top management to take responsibility for defining initiatives to address them.

Such initiatives will then apply to all or part of the organization. Other critical success factors are addressed in underlying tactical plans in the line organization. Internal critical success factors are often linked to the development of human and structural capital.

The result of the management and owners’ strategic work results in what one can call the overall strategy of the company. Many companies use Balanced Scorecard with templates for strategy maps and scorecards to define and later follow up and revise the overall strategy.

Management’s overall strategy contains next year’s strategic goals, critical success factors and identified common strategic initiatives. Based on this, the organization is engaged in standardized work to develop detailed tactical action plans for next year.

The goal is to develop a set of plans that provide the best possible impact on the strategic goals and critical success factors with the resources the business has. This planning work is a separate sub-process in the previously referred strategy deployment process.

The strategy deployment process also includes formal sub-processes for implementing the plans. This is described, together with how the company can have a holistic approach to establishing its improvement system, in a separate post.

Let’s take a closer look at the requirements for planning in the strategy deployment process.

8 important requirements for planning in the strategy deployment process

  1. Overall strategic goals must be broken down to underlying goals in the department and/or process. This also applies to financial targets, which as a rule must be converted into process variables within the categories HSE, quality, delivery precision, productivity, flow efficiency and resource efficiency.
  2. All goals and priority critical success factors must have associated defined initiatives in the tactical action plans.
  3. A department may have its own goals and critical success factors in addition to those directly linked to the level above (business level).
  4. The progress in the development of tactical plans must be aligned with the milestones given for the treatment of strategy and budget in the company’s board of directors.
  5. The development and implementation of tactical plans at departmental level should involve everyone through specified activities.
  6. Tactical action plans in different departments must be coordinated.
  7. In addition to initiatives to improve performance, tactical action plans should include initiatives to further develop human and structural capital.
  8. The set of tactical action plans must be considered to determine whether they are sufficient to reach strategic goals and deal with critical success factors.

To ensure that the entire set of tactical action plans has the right content, the strategy process must include activities that help managers and employees have a realistic and common understanding of the reality of their environment. This will also be used to challenge own internal structural and human capital. Based on shared insight, the need for major changes is identified.

The strategy deployment process should be part of the business’s comprehensive Business Improvement System (BIS). Want to learn more about this topic? Download our guide “How to Implement a Business Improvement System”.

 

[1] Sven H. Danielsen, Produce Results! – book 3: Excellent development and implementation of strategic action plans. 1. 2016. ISBN 978-82-998783-5-7
[2] Pascal Dennis. Lean Production Simplified. s.l.: Productivity Press, 2007. ISBN 1-56327-262-8.