Regular Strategic Planning in Today’s High Speed Environment

imgresOne of my favorite movies is, “The Hunt for Red October.”  Besides being well written and produced, some of the lines in it are memorable as I approach my work. For example, in the scene when Jack Ryan has landed on a carrier, he and the ships captain, played by former actor and U. S. senator, have a conversation a
bout the Russian’s intent to get back or sink the submarine Red October. The line that stuck out to me was somewhat crass but quite memorable. Fred says, “Son, the Russians don’t take a dump without a plan!” Though a bit earthy, it is good general advice for anyone in trying to navigate the waters of today’s rapidly changing digital universe. Unfortunately, the majority of businesses and ministries do not have a strategic plan. The best ones do. The process is relatively simple–usually I can help a client pull one together in less than 10 hours–but it does no good if it goes in the drawer and is never referred to in the day to day operation of the business. Thats why I’ve built a review into the process that means that, as a consultant/advisor, I actually come back at 3 months, 6, months and 12 months to see if the goals of the plan were accomplished and the people with the responsibilities for each section have performed to plan. When a plan is faithfully executed, the results can be amazing. The process, by the way, can be done via videoconferencing with groups of people as well. Not too long ago, I had a project to develop a plan with the national board of an eleemosynary organization in the education sector. Their board members were spread all across the country. After an initial meeting in a large city where everyone flew in for a one day kick off, the next 10 two hour sessions were done once per week over the video conferencing service. The process was a good example of face to face contact and thoughtful collaboration in which I was the catalyst and plan writer. Costs were kept down. Time spent was maximized. The plan was executed and worked we’ll for the organization even though it took them several years to implement that which in a business would be done in one year.