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Advance your strategic plan with an agile strategy process


I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that strategic planning is simpler than you think.  The bad news is that the traditional strategic plan and its implementation is dead!  Long live an Agile Strategy Process.  Agility is king!

Strategic Planning is Simpler Than You Think

Don’t worry, while it can get dressed up in all kinds of confusing terminology, academic frameworks and conflicting concepts, the backbone of strategic planning is simpler than you think!  Some would say it’s as simple as “where will we play and how will we win?” (read more:  Where Will We Play and How Will We Win?).  I don’t disagree with that as the core, but prefer to expand to the backbone of the following questions:

Why?

  • Why does our business exist? As Simon Synek said, “start with the why”.
  • Why should employees be passionate about what we do and our ambition for impact?
  • Why else could they?

Who? 

  • Who do we serve?
  • Who are our customers?
  • Who else could be?

What? 

  • With what do we serve them?
  • What do they buy?
  • What else could they buy?

How?

  • How do we serve them?
  • How do we provide a value-for-money proposition?
  • How else could we?

Where?

  • Where do we serve them?
  • Where are the places in which we serve them?
  • Where else could we?

When?

  • When do we serve them?
  • When in their day, their business life cycle and their professional journey do we serve them?
  • When else could we?

The good news is that the backbone of strategic planning is that simple.  It’s about making strategic choices and decisions about the why, who, what, how, where and when?  In many ways, you can boil a business down to a transaction flow of decisions.  In an increasingly fast-paced world the key is agile-decision-making, surrounded by the quality of thinking and questions that go into those decisions and the quality of actions which follow from them, which add up to agile-innovation.

Because of that agility challenge, now for the bad news.

Traditional Strategic Planning & Implementation is Dead!

If you set out to tackle this strategic planning back bone in the traditional way, you will be disappointed.  You know the kind of thing:

  • You spend a few days offsite
  • Doing a SWOT analysis beforehand
  • Capturing everything in spreadsheets

That’s what I call “waterfall” strategic planning (read more: Waterfall vs Agile/Sprints/Scrum – Pivoting to the future of Agile-Teamwork), whereas, what we need these days is an “agile strategy process” – an ongoing, dynamic process of strategy which is on all the time.  That requires a cadence of meetings, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly (and yes, annually).  Yes, like it or lump it, agile meetings are at the heart of your enterprise agility!  (Read more:  Agile Meetings … are at the heart of your Enterprise Agility!) That’s the secret — to be translating agile strategy and agile execution into traction on your desired trajectory of profitable growth for all, with the agility required to be avoid wheel spinning!

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