I was talking the other day with a friend about what consultants do. One of the topics raised was “strategic planning.” We talked about what that meant for a while. Then he said, “Oh, so you create business strategies for clients?”
Word parser that I am, I had to disagree with that. I don’t “create” strategies for clients. I like to think that what I really do is help them figure out what practical steps make the most sense for helping them accomplish their short and long term business objectives.
In a nutshell, a “strategy” project involves holding up an objective and analytical mirror to the client that helps them understand:
- This is what you say your organization’s goals are.
- This is how you are currently managing technology and related resources.
- Here are specific short term and long term initiatives you can undertake to improve the alignment of (1) and (2).
One of the problems that sometimes occurs with “strategy” projects is that an explicit connection isn’t made between (1) and (3). That’s why I believe that any recommended initiative that emerge from a strategy consulting project should always include not only an explicit statement of how it supports a strategic business objective but also an explicit statement of the resources required to carry out that initiative.
One reality of strategic planning projects is, as pointed out in How To Develop a Business-Aligned Social Media & Social Networking Strategy, that the total costs of the initiatives that emerge from a strategic planning exercise often outweigh available budgets. That’s one of the reasons that strategic planning shouldn’t be a one-time activity perfomed by senior management. Instead, it should involve an ongoing process for continued evaluation and review of current and planned initiatives.
Tough choices may have to be made. Management always needs to be asking how each initiatives contributes to the organization’s objective. If this means that a mid-course correction is needed in the “strategic plan,” so be it.
- For more on strategic planning, click here.
- Copyright (c) 2008 by Dennis D. McDonald