Meeting with a client, I shared that we will take an uncommon strategic planning approach. They seemed relaxed and concerned at the same time. The uncommon strategic planning idea is to build the system to identify weak signals for progress and regress that re-focuses the strategy.
You cannot plan for strategy. You can plan how you will identify and test as strategy happens.
A strategy is a pattern or plan that integrates an organization’s major goals, policies, and action sequences into a cohesive whole. A well-formulated strategy helps to marshal and allocate an organization’s resources in a unique and viable posture based on its relative internal competencies and shortcomings, anticipated changes in the environment, and contingent moves by intelligent opponents. [Quinn, James Brian. Strategies for Change – logical incrementalism: pg 7]
Uncommon Strategic Planning
Executives can manage uncommon strategic planning in an incremental process that allows for feedback from the process itself. This feedback enables complexity and change to happen and people to learn through the process.
In the absence of an immediate crisis, executives co-construct opportunities for strategy through:
- Establish a system to support and sense new strategies in advance,
- build awareness and legitimize viewpoints about new strategic options,
- broaden support and build comfort levels for action and progress,
- start and stimulate ad hoc programs to generate partial solutions,
- avoid early identification with specific solutions to maintain flexibility, choice from many perspectives, and motivation from all people within the organization,
- manage political coalitions to support and enhance consensus as it emerges,
- get individuals to identify personally with intended strategies,
- actively shape accepted strategic ideas toward patterns that support goals that may only be broadly conceived at first and evolve interactively along with alternatives toward more explicit commitments.
Most of the steps above are not common strategic planning methodologies. They combine formal analytical, political, and organization development processes adapted to the realities of planning and needing input from people to understand the particular opportunities, obstacles, and odds for an organization.