The Evolution of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning has changed dramatically over the years. The strategic plans of the past articulated an organization’s objectives three to five years out and required leaders to assess progress annually. Today, many organizations actively revisit their strategic plans quarterly, and often with monthly check-ins. Long-term strategies are no longer set in stone, but viewed as directional guidelines, given the rapid pace of economic change and technological innovation.

In a recent webinar from Harvard Business Review with John Kotter, Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, Kotter discusses his belief that this shift in thinking comes as a result of “global integration” and “technological progression.” Kotter believes organizations must not only identify potential opportunities, but also recognize which opportunities are worth pursuing at a much faster pace.

Bringing This Thinking to Your Organization

This need to continuously and rapidly evaluate the market presents an interesting challenge for leadership. Leaders are charged with cultivating new and different skills within their organizations. This includes vision, intellectual and organizational agility, awareness of industry trends and leading-edge practices, and ability to make decisions based on limited information. A CEO can certainly hire executives with these critical skills and competencies. However, is there a way to weave them into the organization’s DNA?

At Dinte, we have seen some interesting ways organizations develop their executives’ skills and simultaneously accelerate the overall organizations’ readiness to take advantage of growth opportunities real-time. These examples go beyond leadership development programs, which are critical as well. These examples are hands-on. While they have been discussed in leadership circles for years, they seem to be gaining more traction. A few examples include:

  • Cross-training in a different division or business unit
  • Leading a cross-functional strategic project
  • Playing a lead role on due diligence for a potential acquisition
  • Incubating a new product or service concept
  • Taking an international assignment

What are you seeing? What is new and innovative? What would work best in your organization?