How To Improve Strategic Planning

2020 has ended and more people are glad it’s finally over. We all know that the flip of the calendar page from December to January is not going to change anything immediately. For most people, it is a psychological release of whatever challenges happened the previous year and an opportunity to step into the chance of a much better year.

In the business world, January either triggers the start of a strategic planning process or the implementation of a plan which was finalized previously. Leaders understand that planning is an essential part of business success. A famous quote reflecting that premise comes from Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Unfortunately, just because you plan does not mean success will show up!  Even if you approach planning from a highly strategic perspective, there is no guarantee that the results you seek will actually happen — no matter how dedicated your team is to achieve them.

So, what’s a company to do?  Plan, implement and hope for the best? That is certainly one approach, though not one we recommend.  There is never a single right way to approach strategic planning.  But there are three key questions you must answer in whatever planning approach you take:

  1. Where is your business now?
  2. Where do you want to take it?
  3. What do you need to get there?

McKinsey & Company released an article recently that recommends shifting from an annual planning ritual to treating strategy as a journey. Instead of just focusing on big goals, they suggest having a more agile approach of going from big goals to little goals in a much more robust way.

Another McKinsey & Company article from several years ago is still quite relevant and provides five ideas that executives can employ immediately to make existing strategic planning processes run better:

  1. Start with the issues that will have the greatest impact on future business performance.
  2. Bring the right people together to fuel vigorous and collaborative discussions.
  3. Adapt planning cycles to the needs of each business unit rather than forcing a yearly strategic planning process.
  4. Implement a strategic-performance management system to quickly correct, redirect or abandon an initiative that is failing to perform as expected.
  5. Integrate human-resources systems into the strategic plan through metrics linking success closely to bonus packages and other incentives.

So now that January 2021 has arrived, our question to you this this: Where are you in your planning process for 2021? 

If you haven’t started it yet and want a fresh approach to lay out a strategic roadmap to achieve your business goals, let us help! Our clients are business leaders seeking forward-thinking operational and strategic solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth.

Schedule a Coffee & Consult with us using the form below. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from that conversation. And, you never know, it could just be the one conversation that makes all the difference to you and your company in 2021.


Kris Cavanaugh Castro is the People Development Coach at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth.  Kris has over 25 years of coaching, training and mentoring leaders to greater success; and she periodically writes about leadership development and facilitates change management conversations.


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