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If you are doing strategic planning activities for a support function within an organization, you can face challenges deciding what the plan should emphasize.

It’s easy to focus on creating important capabilities for the functional area (i.e., implement better accounting systems, develop an improved human resources process). It is probably equally easy to fall into the trap of simply taking orders from the P&L side of the business, limiting your focus to simply listing what the line organization tells your area it needs from you.

For strategic planning activities within a matrix organization, however, the ideal is to foster a shared strategic mindset between the line organization and support areas. Both line and functional areas should be leading the organization in the same direction with complementary strategic initiatives. This is the reason we are emphatic about having both line and functional leaders participate in strategic planning activities for functional departments.

2 Strategic Thinking Questions for Strategic Planning Activities in a Support Organization

One way to instill the mindset that a functional department also needs to take on a leadership role in the organization during strategic planning (and afterward) is asking and answering these two strategic thinking questions:

Within our strategic plan…

  • Our department will drive _____________?

  • Our department will enable _____________?

At the start of your strategic planning activities, solicit ideas broadly with these strategic thinking questions. Identify a comprehensive list of ideas for where the functional area will DRIVE initiatives to make the organization better. Do the same for how your work will ENABLE the important objectives for the entire organization. Identify themes and narrow your answers. You are not looking for a final list of dozens of strategic initiatives. You want just a few areas where your functional area can concentrate. These should be strategic initiatives where a functional area can meaningfully and visibly improve core metrics for the overall organization. – Mike Brown

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Create the Vision to Align and Engage Your Team!

Big strategy statements shaping your organization needn’t be complicated. They should use simple, understandable, and straightforward language to invite and excite your team to be part of the vision.

Our free “Big Strategy Statements” eBook lays out an approach to collaboratively develop smart, strategic directions that improve results!


Download Your FREE eBook! Big Strategy Statements - 3 Steps to Collaborative Strategy



Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Are you involved with the strategic planning process for your organization?

That could involve leading it, participating in it, or trying to influence the strategic planning process so it delivers more value and better results for the organization?

7 Strategic Planning Process Challenges You Can Fix!

Typical complaints about a strategic planning process

If you have a role in strategic planning, do any of these describe your situation?

  • You have a strategic plan completed by a small senior leadership team. Key leaders in the organization now won’t embrace the strategic plan because they weren’t involved in developing it.
  • You are a board member of a non-profit that’s doing great work, yet the board is apprehensive about whether the dynamic executive director has a plan and is grooming successors. The executive director, on the other hand, is not inclined to want to complete a strategic plan.
  • You have just taken over leadership of a company. You are starting to see where you most need to make progress. Your next challenge is communicating the vision and getting your new, senior team onboard.
  • Your organization is pursuing lots of good ideas. All the good ideas are getting in the way of the game-changing idea you need to develop and successfully implement.
  • You have a major strategic move to make with the company. You need to ensure you are considering every potential option to ensure you’re pursuing the smartest possible direction.
  • You have the okay for a more robust strategic planning process. You don’t have the expertise or experience for delivering on the expectations you’ve created. And now you’re scared.
  • Your senior leadership team held a meeting to develop a strategic plan. You had tons of great conversation, but no one wrote anything down that you can now implement.

These are just a few of the situations where we have helped organizations embrace a different type of collaborative strategic planning process.

If you find yourself on this list, contact us and let’s talk before this year’s strategic planning season starts. We’d love to share ideas with you on how to derive more results from the time investment you will be making in planning your organization’s future!  – Mike Brown

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Create the Vision to Align and Engage Your Team!

Big strategy statements shaping your organization needn’t be complicated. They should use simple, understandable, and straightforward language to invite and excite your team to be part of the vision.

Our free “Big Strategy Statements” eBook lays out an approach to collaboratively develop smart, strategic directions that improve results!


Download Your FREE eBook! Big Strategy Statements - 3 Steps to Collaborative Strategy



Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Learning what participants in an upcoming big meeting know, think, and believe before they come together in a large group is one tactic to strengthen team collaboration.

14 Team Collaboration Benefits from Pre-Meeting Outreach

Depending on the nature of the pre-meeting outreach you conduct with participants, it can promote team collaboration and help:

  • Get to know participants better and figure out how to best work with them
  • Gain a sense of what people already think
  • Learn what insights the participants already have and don’t have
  • Find out what you need to figure out or research ahead of time
  • Look for areas where you agree so you can make it seem like your ideas are theirs, creating greater ownership
  • Identify strong ideas upfront so you are ready to listen for and act on them in the larger group meeting
  • Understand the nature of disagreements or contrarian points of view, especially how accurate, deeply held, and unchanging they are.
  • Better strategize how to introduce challenging points of view
  • Determine how interested people are in developing a beneficial solution
  • Prioritize topics based on their criticality
  • Uncover time saving and efficiency opportunities, knowing you can spend less time on topics where people agree and more on where they disagree
  • Identify which people should and shouldn’t be in small groups together
  • Discover perspectives you will need to introduce in a larger group setting that individuals may be reluctant to voice
  • Make it more difficult for someone to play games in a large group (by espousing a point of view they don’t hold privately)

Gaining these team collaboration insights can come through various pre-meeting outreach formats. You can use individual conversations, online surveys, online collaborations, and review previous documentation. The method you choose obviously depends on how available and near people are, along with the importance of anonymity in their responses.

No matter the approach don’t go into a big meeting and expect the strongest team collaboration if you haven’t done your pre-meeting groundwork to make it happen. – Mike Brown

5 Ways to Start Implementing Faster and Better!

In the new Brainzooming strategy eBook 321 GO!, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success. You’ll learn ways to help your team:

  • Move forward even amid uncertainty
  • Take on leadership and responsibility for decisions
  • Efficiently move from information gathering to action
  • Focusing on important activities leading to results

Today is the day to download your copy of 321 GO!

Download Your FREE eBook! 321 GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!



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Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I’ll admit it upfront: I’m not a huge fan of highly-involved, fun strategic planning icebreaker activities that don’t provide direct value to the strategic thinking we need to do.

Granted, the contribution doesn’t have to be something that will go into the final strategic plan.

But if we’re going to invest any amount of time for fun strategic planning icebreaker activities, they need to directly contribute to a fun environment or help the group to network and collaborate more effectively during the day.

So, with the idea of sharing ideas that still leave you with lots of flexibility, here are strategic planning icebreaker activities you can develop to best suit your strategy group’s needs. You can use these idea starters and imagine what will be most effective in any setting.

8 Strategic Planning Ice Breaker Activities

  • Ask a question that even people that have worked together for a very long time would have never asked and discussed previously.
  • Have people quickly pair up (or multiple up) and create something they will need during later strategy activities.
  • Give everyone an individual question that fits them perfectly. Have them ask the question of everyone. During introductions, the group introduces each individual as they share all their answers about a specific person.
  • Ask a most, least, best, or worst question that everyone answers.
  • Ask a first question: What was your first friend? First love? First job? First thing you did this morning? The first thing you do in a new city?
  • Ask a last question: Last thing on your mind? Last time you felt like a kid? Last time you were shocked? Last time you did something that scared you?
  • Ask a never question: What are you never doing? Have never done but would like to? Never thought (when you were young) that you would (or wouldn’t) be doing this all the time? Something you never thought you’d admit this to a group of co-workers but here it is?
  • Create a laundry list of odd (but not necessarily embarrassing) activities. Have people select one to do when it is their turn to introduce themselves.

Do you see a starting point in these ideas? If so, let us know what you try and how it works. If not, try here, here, or here for even more fun strategic planning icebreaker activities you could try. – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planning11 Ideas to Make a Strategic Planning Process More Fun!

Yes, strategic planning can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Does your organization excel at its strategy implementation process?

Do you execute new strategies quickly, effectively, and successfully?

A few clients we talk with mention a strong strategy execution process. Most discuss some big challenge (or multiple challenges) with implementation.

We address their experiences in our collaborative strategy implementation approach. You can’t invite others to collaborate on a strategic plan and later ignore them when you launch it. The strong value of collaborative strategic planning comes, in part, from involving parties critical to strong implementation even before you create the plan.

Fast Forward Your Strategy Implementation Process – Free eBook

We have compiled our highest impact strategy implementation recommendations into one FREE eBook: Fast Forward – Successfully Implementing Your Plan.

In Fast Forward, we share actionable ideas, tips, and checklists to rapidly improve your strategy implementation process and results. Fast Forward focuses on three critical success areas:

  • Streamlining how you communicate your plans for impact
  • Selecting and shaping strong implementation leadership
  • Reducing implementation barriers to move forward quickly and flexibly

Download Your FREE eBook! Fast Forward - 3 Keys to Implementing Successfully

Specific features include:

  • 10 ways to simplify and strengthen the language you use to communicate strategic priorities
  • 9 ideas for introducing your strategic plan with style and impact to gain the organization’s attention and engagement
  • 4 keys for selecting the right collaborative leaders for implementation
  • 12 questions to better launch a successful strategy implementation process
  • How to navigate 4 typical execution challenges in organizations
  • Using mini-plans to increase your organization’s implementation flexibility

Download your copy of Fast Forward today, and ramp up your results with outstanding implementation! – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Suppose the strategic planning task at hand is imagining what your organization will look like at some future point.

What are strategic planning exercises you can use with a team?

7 Ideas to Envision What Your Future Organization Might Look Like

Here are seven possibilities to consider:

  • Describe a future time where the organization has already achieved incredible success. Also, describe a comparable future time scenario the organization failed on all important objectives. For each of future state, look back and ask what led to incredible success or failure.
  • Employ extreme creativity and disruptive innovation-oriented questions to push your strategic planning vision exercise in bold, future directions.
  • Identify the most important elements of the business that hold great potential to materially change the organization’s future prospects. Once you settle on these attributes, use them as the basis to describe the future (i.e., What does that specific attribute look like in the future by itself and in conjunction with all the other attributes).
  • Interview lead users and future-looking experts to understand how they’d describe an aggressive future vision.
  • Identify all the elements of the brand. Have a group respond individually on which of the attributes needs to change dramatically, which can change marginally, and which need to be eliminated in the future. After securing individual responses, use a group strategic conversation to settle on the future strategic planning vision.
  • Develop an analysis of future trends. Extend the trends 5x and 10x to create dramatically bold future visions.
  • Select other brands and imagine what your organization would look like if they were running your organization.

Ensure you have all the strategic thinking perspective and voices we always recommend. Additionally, for these strategic planning vision exercises, make sure you include external participants with expertise and perspectives not burdened by the organization’s current, status quo vision.

Want to talk more about taking this approach to a future vision as part of your strategic planning?

Contact us, and let’s chat about how this strategic planning exercise approach applies to your organization. – Mike Brown

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Create the Vision to Align and Engage Your Team!

Big strategy statements shaping your organization needn’t be complicated. They should use simple, understandable, and straightforward language to invite and excite your team to be part of the vision.

Our free “Big Strategy Statements” eBook lays out an approach to collaboratively develop smart, strategic directions that improve results!


Download Your FREE eBook! Big Strategy Statements - 3 Steps to Collaborative Strategy



Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Talking to executives, you hear the expectation that an organization should implement a solid strategic plan strategy-by-strategy. To the extent a strategic plan is not implemented in that way, it falls short in some fashion. This goes along with the idea that if you never remove the big strategic planning notebook from your office shelf, it is a complete failure: you might as well not even do a strategic plan.

I understand that perspective on how a strategic planning process should play out.

I’m also enough of a realist and have been around the block enough times to not cling to those expectations about how a strategic planning process has to work. If your organization ’s strategic plan process comes together based on a few senior executives sitting in a room followed by a bunch of managers working alone in their offices, however, pulling the strategic plan notebook off the shelf is a HUGE metric for whether it’s successful.

7 Collaborative Strategic Planning Process Impacts (Even if the Plan Sits on the Shelf)

When you develop a plan from a collaborative, conversationally-driven strategy planning process, you see other tangible impacts. This type of strategic planning process:

  • Guides the organization to greater success
  • More effectively creates alignment in strategic thinking
  • Helps make yes and no decisions about what initiatives to pursue easier
  • Broadens the understanding of what’s important to the organization
  • Sequences activities you need to implement in a specific order
  • Sets out metrics that signal progress (or lack of progress)
  • Educates the organization on how to imagine and implement strategically

Looking at this list, you can see why we place such an emphasis on using a collaborative strategic planning process.

Are you up for discussing how this could benefit your organization? Contact us, and let’s book time to talk. If you do, here’s our Brainzooming guarantee: Spending thirty minutes together, you’ll walk away with at least five ideas you can go do on your own, whether we ever talk again or not.

Want to take me up on that guarantee? Let’s go! – Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategy and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
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Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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