How to Streamline Strategic Planning for Your Function

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    Build a clear strategic plan in a rapidly changing environment

    All corporate functions do strategic planning, but few do it well. All too often, concerns about meeting short-term targets, fear of failure and a preoccupation with operational issues overwhelm aspiration.

    This year, enterprise strategy setting is adaptive and must flex with scenario planning. Functional leaders must be equally responsive. As the pace of change and economic uncertainty make successful strategic planning more challenging, functional leaders must consider how to produce clearer, more effective strategic plans more quickly.

    Streamline strategic planning to respond to adaptive strategy.

    As senior leaders reset business strategy, they’re increasingly relying on adaptive strategies that set long-term ambitions but still flex with evolving conditions. That strategy articulates what the leadership will do to compete and succeed in its chosen markets or, for the public sector, what the agency will do to achieve its strategic priorities.

    Functional strategic plans follow, setting a roadmap of initiatives and investments and showing how the function will contribute to the enterprise business model and goals. Functional leaders must be able to create those strategic frameworks quickly, focusing only on what’s material to the strategy. Streamlining your strategic planning process puts the focus on critical assumptions, relevant metrics, and the key initiatives your function needs to contribute effectively to organizational goals, even as they shift.

    The four core practices of adaptive strategy are to 1) start execution as early as possible, 2) respond to changes as they happen, 3) embrace and explore uncertainty, and 4) involve everyone in strategy.

    Select your function to download your step-by-step strategic planning guide.

    Use the strategic planning templates and tools to save time.

    Additional strategic planning questions Gartner can help answer

    Strategic planning is the practice of setting and executing against the objectives and initiatives needed to achieve an organization’s long-term goals.

    An effective strategic plan helps leaders improve the focus and responsiveness of planning activities critical to achieving their long-term strategy.

    To build a successful strategic plan with a consistent and sequential process, functional leaders should:

    • Ensure consistent usage of terms to minimize confusion in strategic planning and set a baseline for collaboration
    • Build a strong foundation for more detailed planning by setting or pressure-testing mission, vision, and goal statement first
    • Streamline stakeholder input by limiting mission, vision, and goal setting to senior leadership, and leaving objective, action plan, measure, and metric development to managers with execution expertise

    The key elements of a successful strategic plan include:

    • Strategy context: To build a successful strategic plan, leadership should be cognizant of the global trends and assess their volatility and impact on the enterprise
    • Vision and Strategy: A strategic plan must be adaptive enough to enable an agile response if the context changes during the execution period
    • Strategic Plan Design: A strategic planning design with a solid foundation can  translate the strategy into executable plans effectively
    • Enterprise Strategic Plan Execution: Strategic execution should be well-aligned with the overall strategy