Strategic planning creates organizational context. It is the primary means by which an organization sets priorities, plans resources, examines operations, and offers a high-level operation framework for employees and stakeholders. The strategic plan brings together high-level goals as a way to signal consensus on shared outcomes. A strategic plan sets direction and offers a differentiated organizational approach to the market so that competitors, and their actions, can be properly assessed.
The best strategic plans don’t have dates, they have version numbers because they reflect not the day the plan was created, but the moments in which it is being applied. Every strategic action changes the plan and the plan should be an on-going, real-time tool for decision making and organizational assessment. Every strategic action should be made against the backdrop of the plan, and the plan should immediately reflect the impact of the decision, and regular updates should be made as decisions play out. Strategic plans should be plans of action, not just a statement of intent.
Scenario Planning: Uncertainties and stories about the future
Scenario planning builds stories about the future that can be used to inform strategy, drive innovation, or create thought leadership. The process involves understanding the uncertainties related to a focal question, like “what will work look like in 2030?” The process then explores a range of ways that question might play out under different social, technological, economic, environmental, and political circumstances. The documentation of those stories become the scenario narratives.
All of our strategic services include the potential use of long-range scenarios to assist in the strategic dialog. Scenarios help organizations challenge assumptions, develop early warning systems, and avoid surprises.
Strategic planning typically answers the following questions:
What is our mission? Our purpose?
Vision: What do we want the organization to become?
What do we offer now and what should/can we (do we have permission) to offer in the future?
Who are our offers for? (what base of customers do we serve?)
What do we do that is unique? What differentiates us from other businesses?
Do we have competitors? If so, how do we become the supplier or service of choice?
What is our current culture and how do we align it to execute our strategy?
What internal and external strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats do we face?
What are our goals and objectives: financial, customers, internal business processes, and people?
How have past actions influenced, changed, or reaffirmed assertions made in the plan?
What uncertainties do we face?
What scenarios about the future can help us navigate change more effectively?
For more reading on strategic planning visit our Strategy Brain that consolidates all of the Serious Insights posts on strategy and scenario planning.
Serious Insights helps educational institutions innovate by coupling accreditation with strategic planning. This approach allows for educational institutions to be more nimble in the near-term—to plan and execute at the pace of change—and to be more efficient in delivering accreditation materials because much of the work of accreditation becomes a packaging exercise for strategies, definitions, and approaches already documented, being implemented and being assessed.
Serious Insights conducts analysis so that colleges and universities can better understand their strategic context. We employ a number of methods from traditional strategic planning processes to programs that use scenario planning and strategic dialog. We move beyond the “strategic plan” as a document in order to help organizations can act and think more strategically. Serious Insights helps organizations explore their strategic context in order to maximize their unique advantages, improve perceptions, develop a vision, redefine their brand, or effectively integrate sustainability and social justice. Clients will also learn how to upscale their relationships with students, staff, faculty, the community, and partners to capture more inclusive strategic insights.
For additional reading on strategic planning in education see:
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