Strategic Planning -OR- How to Develop a Strategy Paper


“Management is doing the right thing at the right time”

Peter Drucker

If you are an expert and you have been promoted - you now may be expected to develop your first strategy paper in your life. Something never ever anyone explained to you, though you may find it tricky to predict the future and not to mix up strategy & tactic from day one (which is very likely to happen at that stage).

If so, you are not alone, and exactly the same applies to many middle managers :
You have to find out WHAT to do first and HOW to move on, what to pursue or what to disregard for now.

Does any of those questions sound familiar to you ?

  • How to start?
  • What to consider?
  • How to weigh and decide?
  • How to organize?
  • How to control?

…everything to be displayed in advance, at least to some extent ?

Should you be concerned and you feel lost in space - here is your

Five-Steps-Guide on How to start

1. Switch off your emotions

It will be all about content, never ever meant to offend anyone at all.
(Skip rushing, blaming, arguing, or judging. If you feel stressed emotionally, take a deeeep breath, sleep over it, and get distanced. Only then continue.)

Grasp and explore calmly the unique moment in which to prepare for good decisions.

2. Prepare

If you run a business – find out where you are and where you want to be.
(i.e. you feel under pressure due to competitors yet you want to outrun bigger and smaller foes)

If you manage a department – find out where the company does want (you) to go to first and find out what your group could do for one or the other high-level goal.
(i.e. if you lead an internal service group, find out where you stand and what others may need from you, enabling them to deliver their big goals properly.)

Bear in mind your ambitions for the future and your capabilities.

3. Open the Dialog

If you manage a business - pick your brain or get to run a survey.  
(I.e. if you feel your clients are dissatisfied, don’t pay, or terminate contracts - find out why. Take it serious to truly understand. Think about the nature and structure of your questions, and learn to ask the right questions - use open questions to obtain the desired knowledge more efficiently!)

If you manage a department, consult peers at all levels - find out what the most common issues are and consider its impact.
(i.e. if you feel your group has an internal acceptance issue, have a direct conversation with them, first, afterwards with your most important clients. Lay out your perception. Ask for honest input. Then listen and jot down your notes. If there is room for [miss] interpretation – ask till you are convinced you fully understood)

Dialogue reaps understanding and understanding reaps progress.

4. Hang in There

» Take your time , make a list of ideas, thoughts, voices and movements and structure all thoughts. Study the cases in an interdisciplinary format.

 Use tools like a Goal Breakdown Structure and others to visualize potential options and learn which ones are the most promising one.

Show up, even if it turns out to be the hardest part of making a difference.

5. Analyze the Output

Look at personal relationships, organizational relations, and national and international developments. Use a strategists mindset (vs. an achievers one) for that purpose. Ask yourself what you can do for “the others” (related to the long-term big goal) instead of what they can do for you (i.e. short-term release resources for you, approve additional staff). Focus on organizational constraints and perceptions; treat them as discussable and transformable. 
(i.e. What was expected? What was delivered? What was missed? What are others doing “better”? What are the real needs ? What can be improved and delivered that hits the client’s needs? Dig deeeeep into it and read between the lines. The HOW comes later.)

Maximum of awareness is the first step to highly effective progresses.

You certainly can also skip all that and get some results through flexible approaches, trial and error, rather than through one right method used in one right way. Unfortunately, most of them don't last and keep us fighting against tight timelines. Give it a try to use your own intelligence and intuition first, in order to find out what you will truly need.

Happy Start !

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