Long-term, 3 to 5 years, strategic planning is often a dead end. Anything further ahead than the one-year focused plan is a future vision rather than a strategy. A strategy defines what is necessary to realize the vision. Business conditions change too frequently to address them meaningfully in a multi-year strategic plan.
Strategic planning must be digested more dynamically to realize a company's goals. The modern business environment moves quickly, without the ability to significantly pivot, adopt, or substantially change short-term multi-year plans die. Over extended periods, 3-plus years, strategic plans are rarely updated or revisited. So, why do companies keep building three to five-year strategic plans?
I have developed the following practices to execute strategy effectively. From planning through execution, the dynamic strategy concept below constantly produces meaningful results. This dynamic planning process, with annual updates of vision and roadmaps coupled with active governance, significantly aids in breaking down often complex concepts and significantly increases goal realization.
1. Keep it Dynamic
Accept the fact that strategies are fluid and need to be recognized as such. Strategies will have to adapt and change so they will be flexible. However, the objective remains the same. Any step taken while working on strategy must lead one step toward the goal. Change the strategy or kill the objective if progress cannot be made.
The first phase in crafting an effective strategy is determining the objective(s) and the potential path(s) necessary to pursue them. Keeping this dynamic, we must accept that most pathways will change mid-flight. If they do, the plan is updated.
Once established, a plan must be actively managed toward the objective(s). If the strategic plan needs to be modified to meet a changing environment, the plan must be updated, and changes communicated throughout the stakeholder structure.
Completing the tasks necessary to reach the objective may take many paths. The goal is to achieve the objective, or fail, as quickly as possible. Iteration may be required, but every success or failure results in an update to the plan and its status.
5. Repeat the Cycle
A dynamic strategy is composed of a series of cycles of planning and execution wrapped in effective and efficient management. That is why it is placed in the middle: Plan – Manage – Execute.
This dynamic planning method must include measurable results to aid decision-making. Also necessary for success are open and frequent communications, task tracking, and active management meetings. Technology can help significantly keep things on track, but the accountability of the project stakeholders is always crucial.
I enjoy this process and find it to be highly effective. Also, being easy to implement due to its simplicity, the complexity of the plan doesn’t change the process. I hope you find dynamic strategy or parts of it useful. I’d love to know your thoughts.