An Outline for Systemic Strategic Planning
that Actually Gets Implemented

A good strategic plan serves as the focal point for how an organization manages itself and business as it moves toward both long and short-range success. It provides…

  • Direction for aligning an organization’s staff and activities
  • Criteria for organizational decision-making. All decisions should support some portion of the plan.

Too many strategic plans, however, languish in desk drawers never to be implemented. Avoid such tragedy through Systemic Strategic Planning (SSP). SSP calls for understanding organizations as human systems, which involves seeing organizations as a collection of human systems rather than a collection of individuals. An understanding of human systems is missing from the development of most strategic plans making their implementation problematic. The goal is to develop the critical mass of active buy-in and support needed for smooth implementation. In a large organization, at least the top three levels of leadership must be involved in deciding what to include in the plan, while in smaller organizations, more can be involved. Though many employees may not be involved in decision-making, you will see that at least their input is sought. SSP emphasizes:

  • Use of the collective knowledge of the organization’s employees and clientele
  • Use of consensus decision-making involving at least the top three layers of the organization’s leadership cadre

Together they increase both the strategic accuracy of the plan and the degree of buy-in from employees.

We suggest the following steps as a template to be modified as needed:

Five Steps to a Systemic Strategic Plan
A Gather and disseminate data relevant to the organization’s current mission and vision. Production, sales, financial, staffing, and employee engagement data will all be useful to make informed decisions. Product (or service) trends, market trends, and competition activity may also be useful.
B With top three levels of leadership:
  1. Review the organization’s mission (the reason the organization exists) and vision (what it wants to become) of the organization. Using consensus modify either or both as needed.

  2. Develop or review and modify as needed the key values that define the organization’s important behavioral priorities. These values will serve as a touchstone for selecting a set of strategic goals and related tactics.
  3. Brainstorm a list of strategic goals—fanciful and otherwise—that could move the organization toward its vision.
  4. Select via consensus a preliminary set of strategic goals that:
    1. Align with the selected values
    2. All key players will support
    3. Together will accomplish the vision
  5. Create resource development strategies:
    1. Identify the resources needed to carry out the selected strategic goals
    2. Develop strategic goals, tactics, and contingencies to create those resources
C The level three leaders discuss the proposed plan down through their organizations to:     
  1. Generate new ideas
  2. Uncover potential difficulties
  3. Begin the process of the units developing how each will align their work with the plan
DThe leadership group:
  1. Further develops and refines the plan based on feedback from the level three leaders and adopts it via consensus.
  2. Develops rigorous monthly monitoring and accountability processes to assure that the organization will stay on track with the plan.
  3. Redesign organization structures and processes as needed to support efficient communication and operation.
EAll organization units develop their specific operational or tactical plans, including…
  1. What each will do to implement the relevant parts of the plan
  2. Identify coordinating processes with related units
  3. Identify and end activities that will not contribute to the plan
   

Systemic Strategic Planning supports the development of the critical mass of support that any plan needs if it is to be implemented and actualized. Concerned that the emphasis on consensus decision-making will big the process down? It need not, check out our article “Quick and Easy Consensus Decision-Making.” You’ll be surprised how easy it can be.