We started talking about strategic planning several blogs ago and I wanted to add a few final pieces. In the first blog, we talked about timelines and tactics. In the second blog, we talked about gaining input across the board. I want to tie all of that up with leadership development, ownership, and accountability.

Let’s start with leadership development. In looking ahead, who will be your organization’s next leaders? When you think about upcoming promotions in the next three to five years, who will those candidates be?

I ask this question because it is critical to gain input, as we discussed in the previous blog. It is also critical to have buy-in when executing a strategic plan. If your future leaders are involved in your current strategy, when it’s their “turn at the wheel,” there will be the depth of buy-in any business owner would want. Therefore, identify your high potential folks and get them involved in your strategic planning process.

We often see organizations take their top leaders, put them in a room, and develop a strategic plan. Not to be ageist, but many of these leaders developing the plan have a short career runway remaining. In other words, they may well be retired before the final execution of the plan occurs.

We find it to be a wonderful combination when we take that experience and combine it with up-and-coming leaders who have a much longer runway. We get the benefit of hundreds of years of experience mixed with the benefit of hundreds of years of future work life. This is one of the reasons some of our clients have doubled and tripled the size of their organizations over the last few years.

One final point about strategic planning is having owners for each tactic and executive sponsors for each goal. The executive sponsor, usually someone on the management team, owns the goal and is responsible for the initiative’s success. They are to regularly report to the management team on progress.

Individual tactics, or, in other words, “all the bites to the elephant,” should have folks throughout the organization owning each tactic. This helps in so many ways. It creates a broad sense of ownership across the board, delegates responsibility appropriately, develops leadership talent, and fosters teamwork and collaboration.

We have one client who has grown tremendously over the years and has taken these ideas to new heights. At any one time they may have over twelve working committees handling specifics to the strategic plan. These committees, most times cross-functional, have solved some extraordinarily complex issues. There have been so many side benefits of this company that it is nearly impossible to count.

For example, the cross-functional nature of the committees has created a culture of collaboration and teamwork. Serious conflicts have been avoided along the way because folks know one another in departments other than their own. With this particular client, there is no “we versus they.” Everyone is a “we!”

I started the series because numerous business owners have approached us regarding strategic planning. I hope this series has provided some insight on how to drive your strategic planning process. If there are some other ideas you would like to see, just let us know and we will address them in future blogs.