Friday, February 8, 2013

Strategic Planning: It is undertaken in the Board Room or the Lunch Room?

I was reflecting about the importance of having really good lunch rooms to ensure that staff have a nice place to take a break, where they can have lots of conversations to relax, laugh and share stories – all of which help build their relationships with each other. I then reflected on Board Rooms how they are set up, how they are often one of the nicest rooms in the organisations and how this space is also for conversations and relationships.

I then thought about how ideas emerge when staff and board members share their stories of what is happening that is good, what are the organisations strengths, emerging concerns and what are the things that an organisation can do to deliver on their mission. 

Do you stop and think
·        What is strategy? 
·        What is strategic planning and how does it happen?
·        How is an organisation’s strategy developed? 
·        Do staff see themselves as ‘strategy developers?  

I was very privileged to be mentored in strategic planning by Professor Geoff Kiel who taught me that strategic planning, implementation and review is a series of ongoing conversations. These conversations should not be restricted to either the board room or the lunch room.  Conversation’s need to be occurring throughout the organisation, I argue in every room. Strategic planning (preparing, arranging, designing); strategy development (deciding on how to use resources for consolidation, growth, expansion, and change); strategy implementation (putting it into practice, execution) and strategic monitoring and review (checking, watching, observing, appreciation, accountability) are all types of conversations. Leaders that believe Strategic Planning is a one-off workshop in the board room once a year are missing the important links that must be created and actively nurtured all year round if they are to develop a strategic plan that is owned by all stakeholders. Leaders who link spaces for conversations, with people (board members, staff, volunteers and stakeholders) and tools to easily capture ideas, concerns, problems and solutions are able to move the organisation forward. All this starts with conversations.  

Conversations are how work gets done in an organisation. Good quality conversations in the workplace enable us to produce:
-                  clarity and shared understanding,
-                  possibility (including new ideas and new ways of thinking),
-                  agreement and commitment,
-                  strategic direction,
-                  cooperation, coordination and collaboration,
-                  improved relationships, and
-                  desired outcomes.
Source: Alan Sieler, Newfield Institute,

When you are at work I invite you to think about how spaces, environments, lunch rooms, board rooms, people and the tools that can be used to facilitate the creation of conversational practices to enable the organisation to flow, grow and create opportunities.  I also invite you to consider what improvements in conversational practices could be beneficial for your organisation’s strategic planning: what could you create that does not exist now? For a conversation about strategic planning contact

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