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Strategic Planning Isn’t Just for Senior Executives
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” Ben Franklin & Alex Mckenzie (author, “The Time Trap”)
You’ve probably heard the phrase “in the blur of war.” The phrase refers to what happens on a battlefield when tactics suddenly change in an unexpected manner often leading to disappointing results for one side. I’m using this reference to help you reflect on your life and work. The “blur” causes one of the party’s battle plan to fail.
Unfortunately, non-executives often think that it has nothing to do with them.
The word strategy is defined “the use or an instance of using this science or art of war.” It also references “skillful use of a stratagem,” a means of attaining a goal.
As a seasoned consultant, trainer, and coach one of the things that always puzzles me is how people can operate in a complicated world and operate without clear goals and plans on how to make them a reality. Most companies do it poorly, and perhaps ten percent of individuals use goals regularly across various domains of their lives. But that is subject for another time, and only a part of strategic planning.
Although I’m not fond of the war reference, it can be helpful as a metaphor meaning no one wants to go into battle without a plan of operation. Metaphorically it can be understood as there are aspects of our lives that are too important for us to fail. For the next few moments ask yourself, “What areas of my life and work are so important that failure is not a satisfying option? Could it be work? Career? Your business? Your family? Health? Finances? Relationships? Etc. YOU ARE THE SENIOR EXECUTIVE FOR YOUR LIFE AND CAREER,
Successful and fulfilled individuals do have plans. Their lives may not look like a straight line, but they are far less chaotic and straighter than those who merely wake up each morning and begin to respond to the newest urgency that pops up on their smart device. (Is it smart or making you dumb? Helping you get closer to your goals as an organizing tool, or distracting you and taking you off course?)
You may have dreams for your life and career, but the most effective and efficient way to make your dreams become a reality is by developing a strategic plan. With a well thought out whole brain plan you will be ready for the unexpected and able to adjust and get back on track quickly. Without the plan, chaos, confusion, and getting stuck will be the result.
What Is a Whole Brain Strategic Plan?
To simplify, a whole brain strategic plan uses four types of thinking (yes, you can learn to consciously think in different modes) and uses various thinking tools to help that process. It can start with your “WHY.” (See Simon Sinek, “Start with Why.”) Your why provides the reasoning and purpose of what you want to create. This provide the motivational juice to move forward.
A second mode of thinking includes the future vision, or clearly imagined and articulated future state of the significant result(s) you want to create adding to the compelling motivational juice.
A third mode of thinking includes planning of the potential “How-to,” and the logistical considerations, actions needed, timelines, etc.
A fourth mode of strategic thinking for your plan is focusing on the “Who,” including people who are involved with the result, both supporters, and blockers. Thinking in this mode includes stretching your thinking to see what you are trying to create from their perspective so that you also can anticipate their resistances and be better prepared on how to work through their resistance. Yes, this requires mental and emotional stretching, but is your result worthwhile of your pursuit?
As a manager, business owner, or individual contributor having a strategic plan for what is most important for your long-term success will save you time, energy, and mental well-being. Is your life, career, business worth the investment of your time and energy to do this?
Can you do this by yourself? Yes, if you have the skills. No, if you’ve never done this before. If you would like help here are a couple things you can do:
“The reason most strategic plans fail is because most people fail to think strategically.” Ned Hermann
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