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You know you need to start a strategic planning process for next year.

Starting, however, has been delayed amid everything else you have had going on recently. If this sounds like your situation, what can you do right away to jump start strategic planning?

8-ball

5 Things to do if You Haven’t Started Strategic Planning Yet

Here are five steps you can take right away to catch up some time and make it seem as if you are completely on top of next year’s strategic planning process.

1. Inventory Historical Info

Inventory what you know about your customers, markets, and competitors based on whether you know / think it’s still relevant or not. Then see how much of the out-of-date information you can start updating.

2. Broaden Your Sources of Planning Input

Figure out a way to quickly reach out as broadly as you can inside and outside your organization to understand new perspectives on customers, markets, and trends. If you’re unsure about doing this, email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320; we can help make it happen efficiently and effectively.

3. Get a Team Together

Assemble a team of smart, diverse people to help get your strategic planning process going. Even if it’s only one or two people, their strong participation will be a HUGE help.

4. Update the Strategic Foundation

Gather all the documents and strategic pronouncements your organization has already created addressing your organization’s direction the last 1-2 years. Organize these based on whether they align or don’t align to what has actually been happening the last 1-2 years.

5. Schedule Time Now

Book time with you organization’s leadership NOW for when you’ll need individual input, when you’ll want them to meet as a group for strategic planning, and when you’ll want them to review the preliminary planning work.

It’s Just Five Things

See, tackling just these five tasks this week will give your strategic planning process an incredible boost toward next year.

Want more tips to simplify strategic planning? Subscribe to the Brainzooming blog as we share more tips during the weeks ahead! – Mike Brown

10 Ways to Effectively Engage Employees in Your Strategy for RESULTS!!!

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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Suppose you’re on the hook to create a vision statement for a new organizational initiative. This seems like an assignment that is simple, complex, and fraught with potential missteps – all at the same time.

That’s especially true if the organization has already launched an initiative before recognizing the need for an over-arching vision statement.

When that happens, what visioning exercises make sense? How do you develop a vision statement when it is trying to catch up to an initiative that is already underway.

4 Visioning Exercises to Rework a Faulty Vision Statement

Clouds-Vision

Your strategy for selecting visioning exercises depends, in part, on what type of direction has been already communicated about the initiative. Here’s our quick advice on potential first steps for visioning exercises based on various starting points:

1. An initiative already has a slogan or catchphrase, but little else behind it

This describes a situation where a senior leader has coined a phrase or been mentioning a favorite new concept. This can lead to confusion and consternation in the organization as everyone tries to interpret what the senior leader means.

Visioning Exercise Approach: In these instances, extract significant words from the slogan and work on defining what each of them could mean in describing the initiative’s vision. Try to imagine several possibilities for each of these words. Using this approach, you’ll create a menu of strategic possibilities which you can mix, match, combine, and simplify to state a more defined vision statement.

2. There is already something resembling a vision statement, but it’s too generic

We’ve all seen a jargon-filled statement that seems as if it were spewed fresh from an all-purpose business jargon generator. It may seem sound impressive initially, but no one has any idea what it really means for the organization that’s touting it as a vision statement.

Visioning Exercise Approach: Your first step is to pull an existing statement as close to the organization’s real world as possible. If took out all the jargon, is there anything left in the statement? Suppose average employees were saying this (and trying to remember it); how would they be describing it in real, understandable words? Are there words used in the statement that could be easily translated or modified to link to strategic foundations the organization already has in place?

3. A current big statement focuses completely on aspiration with no ideas for implementation

This type of statement sounds like it came from the organization saying it, yet it seems so audacious and far off, it’s difficult to know what the organization should be doing to turn it into reality.

Visioning Exercise Approach: When you need to translate organizational aspirations into concrete actions, start asking outcomes-oriented questions. How will we know when we reach this vision? What will have had to happen to help us get there? What would be the potential first steps to reaching the desired outcome?

4. There isn’t anything close enough to resembling a vision statement

Visioning Exercise Approach: In this case, start asking questions about aspirations, emotional words that describe a hopeful future, and possibilities customers would like the brand to deliver. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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There were several searches on the Brainzooming website the other day for “strategic planning session for (a) company that is headed for trouble.” From the quick glance I took, I am not sure if they were from the same person or even the same company.

This strategic planning session search, however, got me wondering: What would I grab from the Brainzooming website as a starting set of strategic thinking exercises, questions, and tools to use for strategy planning if a company were headed for big trouble?

Traffic-Circle

While The Brainzooming Group generally works with clients that are in strong current positions, but perhaps sensing some early strategic weakness, we developed many early Brainzooming strategic thinking exercises while in various turnaround situations in the Fortune 500 world.

As expected, we have created an array of content directed toward a strategic planning session for a company headed for trouble.

Always eager to turn a fruitful search on the Brainzooming blog into a compilation post, here are fifteen articles full of strategic thinking exercises you should consider if your company is headed for big trouble!

Evaluating Warning Signals and Strategic Options

Strategic Problem Solving

Strategic Implementation

Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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Great minds think about the same topics at the same time.

Or maybe another way to put it is that strategy guys start thinking about business strategy questions at the same time because it’s time to start thinking about strategic planning!

On Sunday afternoon, customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle emailed this new blog article on business strategy questions. I saw the email, but didn’t take a look at the article. Later Sunday night when I decided to write a blog post for Monday, I did a Twitter search on #strategic to find creative inspiration. The result was a blog post on…you guessed it…business strategy questions! While there is a little bit of overlap with Woody’s article, his questions are focused on generating the strategy while the ones from the previous column were more for reviewing strategy after it’s been completed.

080907-Thinking-Cap-Guy

So with that setup, here’s Woody!

 7 Business Strategy Questions from Woody Bendle

woody-bendleAs we enter into the back half of the year, it seems this is typically when many organizations begin their strategic planning and goal setting for the coming year.

Strategy and strategic planning needn’t be mysterious nor overly complicated although many organizations do in fact overcomplicate strategic planning.  The problem with this is complicated strategic planning processes tend to lead to needlessly complex strategies.  And the more complex your strategy, the less likely it is to be executed successfully.

After being involved with and/or leading strategy development for more than 20 years, I’ve found that organizations can develop a highly effective strategy by asking and answering just seven key questions.

  1. What are we trying to accomplish?
  2. Why are we trying to do this?
  3. What are our core values or what things do we believe in?
  4. What are the things we need to do in order to accomplish what we’re wanting to accomplish?
  5. How will we know if we are making progress towards our stated goals and objectives?
  6. What things (both internal and external) could get in the way of us achieving our goals and objectives?
  7. What things are we willing and or prepared to do if we are not achieving our stated goals or objectives at the rate desired?

Granted, these are pretty meaty questions; but you have to admit, they are pretty straight forward.

One thing I’ve definitely observed over the past 20 years is that the more straight forward your approach to strategy, the more straight forward your strategy will be; and the more likely it is that your strategy will be successfully executed.

And after all, the point of a strategy and a strategic plan is to define what success looks like for your organization and determine what all needs to be done in order for your organization to be successful.

I think Yogi Berra sums up this sentiment nicely, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”  Woody Bendle

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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Whether you are already working on your business strategy for next year or are updating plans for later this year, here are ten business strategy questions we use that will benefit you.

These business strategy questions represent a mix of open-ended questions along with a few Yes/No ones. That means you can vary them to stimulate strategic conversations (if that is needed) or pin down unwieldy strategic conversations that are not moving toward resolution.

Additionally, with some slight wording variations, you can ask most of these business strategy questions at any point during the strategy development process to keep your strategy development focused.

10 Business Strategy Questions You Need to Ask

Strategic-QuestionMark

  1. Does this strategy make sense based on what we know and expect to happen?
  2. Does the strategy accurately convey what we really want to accomplish with the brand?
  3. Do all the important parts of this business strategy align with and support one another?
  4. What type of message will this strategy send to the organization about where we are heading?
  5. How can we most simply describe it so people can learn and understand it?
  6. Is it evident (from how we have stated that strategy) what we will do to implement it?
  7. In what ways can we better link this strategy to things we already do successfully?
  8. How long will it take us to implement the strategy, and is that amount of time reasonable?
  9. What things HAVE to happen to carry out the strategy successfully?
  10. Do we have the metrics in place to measure it, and if we do not, can we put the metrics in place?

Bookmark or OneTab this article, because you should be using these ten business strategy questions frequently!  – Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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While it may seem far fetched, many organizations are already thinking about getting ready for strategic planning for next year. There’s a great advantage to investing time in early summer to identify changes to last year’s business strategy development process based on what worked, what didn’t work, and what you hope to accomplish for next year.

As you think about who to involve in developing business strategy for your organization, we’ve been talking for years about important groups to include:

We’ve been talking more recently about the three types of voices to incorporate into strategic planning visioning exercises – familiar voices, challenger, voices, and emerging voices.

Group-Watercolor

As you think about developing business strategy, however, there are three other perspectives to consider. You need people participating in strategic planning that are:

  • Familiar with the past
  • Grounded in what’s happening right now
  • Capable of imagining the future

As with the strategic thinking perspectives (business experience, functional expertise, creative energy), it’s rare that one individual will be strong at all these perspectives.

As you think about your entire planning team, we recommend listing the likely people for developing business strategy and then see which roles each of them satisfies. You can then look for where you have critical gaps in experience and perspectives. At that point you can be very selective and pin point the new people you need to add to the strategy team. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for strong ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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There is no one right way to gather information when you’re working with multiple parties. That’s why it’s beneficial to think upfront about what ways might work best for you.

Ask the Same Questions Over and Over

One natural way to gather information from separate, multiple groups is asking the same strategic thinking questions repeatedly so you can aggregate or compare answers from among all participants. This is the basis of quantitative survey research. You can employ the same strategy in more qualitative settings too, such as in focus groups or when evaluating between separate groups or individuals (think of a job interview or a vendor review process).

This same approach underpins much of our strategy work.

For example, it’s what happens when you answer the same questions annually about an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Asking the same strategic thinking questions of multiple people each year provides a basis for making effective comparisons.

We employ this approach for strategic thinking questions across many situations.

Identify What Answers You Need and Ask Different Strategic Thinking Questions

There is another valuable technique for using strategic thinking questions, however, that many organizations overlook. We use it actively, however.

Strategic-Questions

We inventory upfront what information we need to learn or insights we need to develop to move a strategy forward. With this inventory of strategic thinking ANSWERS, we can make decisions on whether the asking same strategic thinking questions repeatedly will deliver what we need OR if asking varied questions will work more effectively and efficiently.

This questioning strategy to information and insight planning provides various benefits:

  • If a key piece of information comes up earlier than expected during our process, we can capture it than and have it available when we need it later.
  • Asking strategic thinking detour questions allows people to share new insights and answers that won’t emerge from the standard questions.
  • Varying the strategic thinking questions we use provides greater flexibility and is less monotonous for participants.

Neither of these two approaches replaces the other one. Used together, however, the two approaches open up many more opportunities for stronger information gathering and developing new insights. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Employees and Creating Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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