Virtual Strategic Planning and Strategic Execution
The majority of our consulting work has been virtual and like everyone else we have adapted by developing a virtual strategic planning and strategic execution process. To us and our clients, this remote workforce thing has not been as bad as people feared. Many leaders believe that employees are more productive when working from home and several companies are reducing office space and headcount because of it – one part of their strategic plan. They all agree that executing strategy has presented more challenges because alignment of all stakeholders is more difficult. They offer several reasons for this:
- Proximity to each other – Previously strategic planning was done in person
- The impact COVID has had on their strategic plans
- Continuing supply chain disruptions
- Too much time working in the business rather than on it
- Managing strategic execution
- Keeping people aligned to the strategy
Most companies who are past the COVID reactionary mode, have settled in with their remote workforce and now it is time to figure out the optimal way to do strategic planning and strategic execution.
Previously, the typical format for strategic planning was several full day meetings over a multi-week period. In the remote world, it is not recommended that a company has day long meetings via video. That probably would be described as cruel and unusual punishment.
In Group50’s methodology, we do virtual strategic planning over a 10-week period with 2-3 hour sprints every week. We have broken our strategic planning process into the following steps:
- Identification of the most important goal
- Interviews with each member of the strategic planning team
- Define “Where to Play”
- Define “How to Win”
- Create measurable KPI’s
- Identify strategic gaps and operating gaps
- Create functional strategies
- Cascade objectives
- Define strategic execution tracking methods
- Develop communication and change management programs
Between each session, the strategic planning team has some homework to do and comes prepared to discuss their findings before moving on to the next step. Our strategic planning methodology requires participation by stakeholders throughout the organization. It breaks down strategic planning into bite size chunks and provides more flexibility to adjust the cadence. It is much less rigid than full day meetings separated by weeks, and it allows more participation from all stakeholders (Board members, C-Suite, middle management, customers, suppliers, employees, and contractors). Approaching it this way provides much more alignment, buy-in and accelerates the change management process.
We use multiple virtual tools during this process and have found that this cadence works well. Our tools include but are not limited to:
- Video conferencing
- Virtual brain storming boards
- Shared data vault
- Document collaboration tools
- Cloud based strategic execution software
Many of our clients have changed the cadence of their strategic reviews to 2-hour sessions each month rather than a full day each quarter. This cadence provides more alignment and, due to the future uncertainty it provides the strategy team the ability to make strategic and tactical changes more quickly. This is another feature of our process that provides more people the opportunity to “work on the business”.