One of our clients is on the road to becoming strategic leaders. They have a sound and flexible 3-year strategic plan. One of their key objectives of developing and implementing the strategic plan is to grow their management team into a team that thinks and behaves strategically. In a recent implementation follow up meeting, I saw three key indicators that this is starting to happen. I also saw a lead indicator that their strategy is differentiating them from competitors when hiring senior people. And as important as all that is, they are seeing in the rear view mirror their progress in relation to where they were just a few short months ago and they are even more energized now to implement the strategy.
Conversations With Courage
Three things happened during our conversation. First, these managers had guts. One manager, whose strategic project is falling behind and at risk of not hitting the target completion date, stated that milestones were missed, putting the project behind by several weeks. He clearly communicated this reality and its implications in a matter of fact and respectful way. The willingness to state the issue and its implications on the project and on the company’s ability to implement its strategic plan is a key indicator that strategic management is starting to happen.
Collaborative Solution Finding
Second, with this newfound awareness of the issues and consequences, the team collectively looked for a solution to get back on track. They have agreed to the accountabilities to move this strategic project forward.
Third, they had a conversation about three key ideas. The first is what it takes to be a strategic manager versus simply being a really good operational manager. Then they had an open and honest conversation about some of their patterns and the effect these have on their ability to be strategic managers. Thirdly, they are finding ways to involve the rest of the company in the plan and to mark the results they are getting in order to create continued momentum.
Competing for Management Talent
Over and above all of this, they are seeing how having developed their strategic plan is impacting their ability to compete for management talent. During hiring interviews, they tell applicants that they have a strategic plan that the management team developed together and stands solidly behind. Interviewees communicate their appreciation of this shared sense of direction.
Strategic Management Vs Strategic Planning
So strategic planning can provide value. It provides the value it was intended to provide when it’s broadened to be strategic management and leader development. Typically, the value is in growing companies and their people.