It’s hard to see into the future when the present seems complex enough. You are trying to plan and be proactive. Even while you try to build a plan forward, you need to respond and react to change.
Strategic planning used to feel easy. A two-day retreat from the office. A debate over the meaning of vision and mission that consumed an afternoon. A hard-fought argument over changing the word “alignment” to “synergy.” Agreement that the strategic priorities from last year probably still made sense. Then a round of golf, before everyone got in their cars and headed back to the real world.
That didn’t really work then. It certainly doesn’t work now.
You need a strategic plan that captures who you are as an organization. Your strategic plan reflects your purpose and makes a commitment about who you intend to become. It is a statement of clear intentions and defined direction. Good strategic plans honour where you have been, are candid about where you are and provide concrete guidance about where you are going and how you will get there. Yes, strategic plans are living documents that need to evolve as circumstances change and challenges emerge; those adaptations should be course corrections, not hard turns or complete about-faces. A well-built plan responds to change readily without needing to be re-written in the face of an emergency or unanticipated obstacle. You should have a clear sense of how the plan is impacted, and the adaptations and adjustments to respond should be clear to everyone.
You also need a strategic planning process that goes deep into your organization, your client base and your community. In a world of change, you need to not only keep up but get ahead. That means understanding wants and needs, challenges and possibilities, and hopes and dreams. You need concrete and reliable input from those you support, those you serve and those you rely on to make it all happen. They need to be engaged, they need to be inspired by what is possible and they need to connect with what is pragmatically necessary to move ahead.
Fortunately, you’ve found a solution that makes a difference. One that translates problems into solutions, ideas into intentions and possibilities into plans.
Interthink Consulting’s approach to strategic planning is grounded in some fundamental beliefs:
- Your strategy is a statement of intention, and drives the actions necessary to deliver the results you care about. Strategy isn’t rationalizing the things you already wanted to do; it is identifying the actions that most matter in building your future.
- Strategy needs to consider what success looks like in many possible futures, not just one. The future isn’t predetermined, and there is no single path to get there. Building strategy needs to recognize that there might be several paths to reaching your goal.
- Engagement is vital not just in gathering ideas, but also building commitment and enthusiasm. Designing how your broader community participates in the strategic planning process is essential to its ultimate success.
- It is your strategy; you build it, you own it and you will ultimately be responsible for delivering on it. Our role is to guide the process, ask the tough questions and get you to a plan that you are proud to call your own.
The process by which we develop your strategic plan is as unique as you are. This is your journey, and your plan. We don’t come brandishing pre-defined solutions, and we don’t build pre-packaged plans. We design an approach that makes sense for you, your team and your organization.
We bring versatility, creativity and flexibility to the challenge of building your optimal strategic plan. In doing so, we can draw on a range of capabilities and practices.
More than just a SWOT process. A good environmental scan takes comprehensive stock of your organization: its past, its present and its current context. More than just reading reports and asking questions, we have the research chops that allow us to build profound and insightful observations that help shape your strategic conversation.
Hearing from your community is an essential part of the strategic planning process. We design an engagement process that makes sense for your organization and aligns and supports the different groups whose voices need to be heard. In person or online, we tailor our approach to ensure full participation and input. We have the skills and tools to guide the full process, from design to facilitation to analysis and presentation of the engagement results.
Scenarios represent powerful stories that can bring your potential future alive. Recognizing that you have multiple potential futures, scenarios provide the guidance to make sense of what they might look like and their significance for your organization. We custom design relevant scenarios that respond to the uncertainties and realities of your organizations. They become valuable tools for framing stakeholder engagement and guiding executive workshops.
Strategy starts broad and often gets broader. Eventually, you have to make clear choices and focused decisions. Defining the most important priorities to move forward, and translating them to meaningful action, can be a difficult conversation. We provide the structure, tools and facilitation prowess to manage and guide making the choices that matter most.
Defining the plan is only the start. Demonstrating delivery of the plan and realization of meaningful results is a critical follow-on step. Measuring the delivery of strategy is a complex process. The easy measures aren’t always the relevant measures. We design scorecards and evaluation frameworks that keep your priorities visible and your progress clear.
Strategy is about change. The priorities you commit to will ultimately result in meaningful shifts in structure, process and outcomes. Being able to translate choices into expected impacts can be an important part of validating your plan, or making the case for specific priorities. We have the depth of expertise necessary to help create a clear picture of the impacts your plan will deliver.