Strategic Planning

The best strategic-planning processes focus on insight, preparedness, and agility—not bureaucracy.

Most organizations are dissatisfied with the way they make strategy. They see their strategic-planning approach as too rigid, bureaucratic, reactive, and disconnected from execution. Confronted with faster-changing environments, they doubt their process can see around the bend to reveal the big, disruptive opportunities that will drive long-term value creation. 

At the heart of these concerns is the misconception that strategic planning is just about annual budgets and five-year plans. These traditional planning approaches work well in stable and relatively predictable sectors, but stability is less and less the norm. More turbulent environments call for nimbler approaches that match the clock-speed of planning to that of the market.

Four Strategic-Planning Best Practices

  1. Explore strategy at multiple time horizons. The long, medium, and short term need to be addressed individually. Each demands different goals, stakeholders, and rhythms—and none should be ignored.
  2. Reinvent and stimulate the strategic dialogue regularly. It’s easy for a strategy process to fall prey to the law of diminishing returns. With too much repetition, the exercise can become stale. Rather than change the process, however, many leading practitioners inject inspiration and novelty by focusing their process on a changing set of critical strategic questions.
  3. Engage the broad organization and beyond. Going beyond the central strategy team to business leads, board members, customers, and even suppliers can help avoid groupthink, boost preparedness and agility, and lead to better strategy execution.
  4. Invest in execution and monitoring. Clear communication is essential, but so are the right organization and metrics. Priority strategic initiatives need to be protected from the day-to-day and tracked via a shared performance dashboard.

Featured Ideas


Always-On Strategy

Leading companies are improving upon their traditional strategy-setting processes by adding something much more dynamic and agile. We call it always-on strategy.

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