STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS PHILOSOPHY AND APPROACH
William J. Schroer began doing strategic planning as part of the corporate marketing teams at Kellogg Company, Jeno’s and ITT, as well as during his assignment as Operations Officer for the Army Special Forces.
The discipline and structure of planning learned in those organizations was tempered with frustration and a tendency for the process to be top-down driven, overly complicated, sequential in approach, closed and not inclusive, and not build ownership for the people who must execute the plan.
The process WJSchroer Company has refined and adopted over the years is called Dynamic Strategic Planning. The process flow is shown on page five. It reflects a progression of effort initiated by a “Stakeholder team”.
The stakeholder team is a cross-section of representatives with a vested interest in the success of the organization. Starting with the mission, the stakeholder team builds the plan based on a platform of fundamental information constructed from historical data, the organizational charter, primary and secondary research and other available data.
This platform is then subjected to an “environmental scan” comprised of current data and, if possible, primary research. The result is a thorough understanding of the organization, as well as its surrounding environment.
The Stakeholder team then works to develop a set of long range objectives based on their understanding of the mission, state of the organization, history, and current situation. Long range strategies are added as appropriate to provide guidance on the approach which the staff will be responsible for executing.
Tactical Plan Task Forces
The Tactical Plan team takes over at this point and, working either as a cohesive group or as a set of dedicated task forces, endeavors to consider implementation of long range objectives and strategies. The tactical plan team is normally primarily comprised of staff and subject matter exports as the staff retains primary subject matter expertise on the programs and services an organization or business provides. Additionally, the staff will also be primarily accountable for the accomplishment of the objectives established.
The tactical plan team finds solutions (programs, products or services and ways for them to be implemented) to recommend back to the Stakeholder Team. These solutions are short term in nature and serve as building blocks for the long range objectives (i.e. Long range Objective 1 (3 year goal) is resolved by accomplishing 33% of the total effort through Short range Goal A in the first year of the three year time frame.)
This philosophy and approach reflect an interest in a disciplined approach and suggests the process should be inclusive, representative, incorporate all stakeholder groups, surface and address minority issues, engage in a dynamic session with all interested parties present to build consensus, iron out obstacles (at least at the strategic level), and build ownership.
STRATEGIC PLANNING METHODOLOGY
1. Conduct preliminary meetings with board, management and selected staff as needed to clarify the assignment and provide feedback on direction, strategies for achievement of goals and outcomes.
2. Summarize critical organizational and operational information.
3. (Optional)Conduct primary qualitative and/or quantitative research to establish performance benchmarks and customer expectations.
4. Develop and conduct a 1- 1 1/2 day strategic planning retreat with the stakeholder team. Incorporated will be summary knowledge and learning generated from historical information as well as primary research (discussed above) completed specifically to fill knowledge gaps.
5. Establish and conduct “total” stakeholder task forces meeting . This meeting will brief key stakeholders who have volunteered to participate in the strategic planning process by being on a specific task force
6. Facilitate 4-5 “problem solving” meetings conducted by up to 5 discrete stakeholder task force teams. Purpose is to pursue implementation strategies of objectives identified in the retreat, consider feasibility, priority, evaluate findings and provide recommendations.
7. Establish and conduct a “total” stakeholder task force recommendation meeting to present all recommendations, obtain endorsement from the group and express appreciation for participation. Also, solicit buy-in.
8. Conduct an intensive 2-3 day “isolation” plan development exercise with key staff and volunteers. The purpose is, essentially to translate all of the work gone before into a workable, meaningful 16-18 month business action plan.
9. Final proof of the document and insure findings are organized into a comprehensive plan for use by staff, management and board