There is a reason that many strategic plans sit on the shelf once they get built. Making strategy work is complicated. Organizations need a solid process to translate strategic priorities into tangible results. This is where many organizations and most plans fall down.
The challenges of delivery are many. Priorities don’t get translated into specific actions. Existing projects are already underway. New ideas bypass the planning process. Pet initiatives get executive cover. Departmental priorities get rationalized to the new priorities after the fact, no matter how tenuous the link. Effort gets focussed on delivering services and supporting operational changes, and only the capacity that remains gets focussed on strategic intentions. The aspirations at the start of the planning process fail to materialize as actual changes. While these statements are all too often true, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Strategic plans are essential for any organization. They define purpose and direction. They set priorities. They define the goals that the organization will work towards, and the results that they will realize. Building a good strategic plan takes solid effort. But delivering the plan is only the first step. What happens after that is where the hard work and heavy lifting take place.
To bring strategy to life takes process. Operationally, you may have a solid grasp on how processes are managed and services are delivered. You also need a solid framework that defines how strategic intention gets translated into concrete reality. You recognize that strategic plans, business plans, and the projects that result all need to be tied into the fiscal plans that pay for them. You also need to ensure that the organization has capacity to do the work, and that there is a plan to manage the change as strategic priorities result in new organizational capabilities.
Strategic process is about more than just how the strategic plan gets developed. It optimally frames how all other priorities in the organization are managed. Subsidiary plans—master plans, asset management plans, information technology plans—frame choices for consideration in setting strategy. Where they exist, business plans and departmental plans reflect how not just services but who is responsible for the strategies and how they will get done. Budgets and fiscal plans define not just the costs of running the organization but also the investments required to deliver the changes envisioned by strategy. Projects represent the tangible front line of how strategy becomes action and outcomes result in meaningful change.
You need a process that brings it all together. You need a way to make sense of priorities. You need to ensure that you create clear accountability for delivering on goals and priorities. You need to ensure that the commitments in the strategic plan are actually attainable, and will be attained. You need to know the work can get done, the anticipated changes can be realized and the new capabilities will have the impact you envisioned. You need to reassure everyone else that this is possible, be clear about their role and where they fit, and provide the support and encouragement as the ideals of strategy get turned into practical reality and meaningful results. Above all, you need the process to be relevant and appropriate, and not intimidate everyone
The good news is that you have the support to make all of that happen, and make it look easy while you do it.
Interthink Consulting brings the expertise, insight and cultural sensitivity necessary to design strategic processes that are effective, produce meaningful results and are accepted by your organization.
Defining and implementing strategic process is inherently political. You are framing not just how strategic choices are made, but how financial and staff resources are invested in delivering on your defined priorities. Everything should flow from strategy. Making that reality happen means making sure that what are often distinct processes and plans come together in one cohesive whole.
We bring extensive insights into not just planning strategy but also its effective execution. We have the expertise to support designing your process, facilitating its acceptance and negotiating how it integrates with your existing processes, structures and systems.
The process of strategic planning isn’t a one-off activity, divorced from the rest of the action and activity of the organization. Not only can we facilitate building your strategic plan, we can also assist in designing, implementing and supporting the integration of your strategic planning process in the on-going operations of your organization. We support the design of a strategy definition process that provides solid ground to anchor the rest of your strategic actions.
Organizations produce a remarkable number of plans. They are not separate and distinct; each servies a purpose and has a role to play, and each integrates with how strategy is formulated and choices are made. We bring extensive experience in supporting planning at all organizational levels. We can define and implement the process required to integrate plans and ensure that they are aligned, support each other and ensure that all decisions and actions flow from your defined strategy.
Translating strategy into projects requires making choices. Defining your priority initiatives requires balancing priority, funding, capacity and the impact of change on the organization. New and emerging priorities need to be considered against existing strategic priorities and commitments that are all underway. We provide the guidance to ensure that priority decisions and the process that supports them are transparent, meaningful and accepted by the organization.
As strategy turns into actions, a number of projects and initiatives emerge. Organizations also inevitably have other projects and transformation efforts already underway. We have the strategy and process expertise that allows us to build effective project roadmaps. We ensure that you have a clear picture of the changes being contemplated and how they integrate. We have expertise in modelling how projects interrelate and depend on each other, the capacity of the organization to do the work and the impact of the change once the results are delivered.
Implementing strategy involves defining projects and initiatives that will create the necessary capabilities and implement the required changes. Managing these projects effectively and well is critical. This requires project practices that are relevant, appropriate and that fit your organization and its capabilities. We have extensive experience in implementing project planning and management practices that are relevant, effective and accepted at all levels of the organization.
Delivering strategic results is more than just producing desired capabilities, practices, processes and systems. To deliver on priorities requires their adoption by the organization. Strategy envisions how the organization will change, and the transformation required to be successful in your desired future. We have extensive expertise in supporting change and transformation efforts, and designing change processes that enable you to fully deliver on your priorities.