Enjoy this video transcript of this week’s Monday Moment episode.
Good morning and happy Monday! I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.
Glad to be with you this week as we continue the three-video series, as many of them in May and June actually have also been dedicated, on pre and now post-pandemic issues and reopening. Now today’s topic is specifically one focused on planning and there have long been complaints for the last 90-days about the feeling of ambiguity, uncertainty, and even, frankly, the inability to feel like you could make any plans. But, you can and many of our association and corporate clients are beginning to reengage in the processes they began prior to the shutdown and quarantine and what we find in this re-invigorated process of planning, or as some might call it strategic planning for the future, is there’s some excitement, some new data, some refreshed re energization, and a revitalized sense and feeling about where we’re headed. Let’s talk about your strategic plan or just simple plans for the future. I might make a few suggestions on covering three specific areas to make sure you have enough data to implement your own planning process, but also to plan for effective outcomes.
The very first of those three areas is to talk through is what are the types of plans. Most commonly, certainly, you’ll hear about strategic planning. This is a broad category and plan type that we have helped to lead with a number of associations and clients and one that I often facilitate, (because it’s far more effective if you’re the leader, particularly if you’re the big boss, for you to just participate rather than facilitate your planning process) but in that planning process, there’s typically something called the strategic plan. And truthfully, there are strategic plan purists and strategic plan…well, let’s call ‘em fakers, although they’re not faking it literally, but instead creating what I would call a hybrid model and it’s actually become quite popular. So, let’s talk about these types. The purists of strategic plans and the planning of.where are we going to be in one year, three, or maybe even five years from now, will tell you that strategies do not belong in the same plan as tactics and if you’re able to be pure in that process, then it works beautifully. Perhaps your organization is in need of a much more clear strategy. What are the thought processes at the tree-tops? What are the very high level, 50,000 foot view priorities and guiding directions replete with mission, vision, and values? Now, the non-purists will tell you, you might even be far more effective to create something that has a few tactics that then leads you right into that conversation about ownership of action items. But, we’re still talking about the types of plans and first, we’ve talked strictly about the strategic plan and now I want to add what I’ve often called the hybrid model. In the hybrid model of a strategic plan you have, yes, strategies typically on a grid system that we use, which should show up on your screen just now. You’ll see a space for the mission and the vision, but you will also see three rows and three columns. So, you can create as many rows or columns as you wish and on an aside, I did not create this template from scratch. It’s one that has been used time and time again that I simply find highly effective. In the hybrid model, you would incorporate three (or more) areas of focus across the top three columns. This if often different groups of people, or those areas this plan will most impact. Then, in each box where those columns and rows meet, leaders would be able to put a combination of goals and tactics. The rows of course, are the areas that are your key focus for the planning process. In a live session, we, for example, would facilitate the finalization of the tactics that belong to each, depending on your goals in this process and with that process of identifying tasks and tactics, you will find you create ownership. You will find that people vie for certain tactics, otherwise known as action items. You will find you then have the ability to hold them accountable. I find the hybrid model takes us from that often long discussion about larger strategy, which is generally much more theoretical, and gets down to what are we doing, who’s doing it, and by when, but then you could also take that a step further and run across a third type, which I found to be least effective. That third option is essentially an action item list or a to-do list, that is then simply called a strategic plan. That’s not really anything more than you filling out a page of your planner, or two pages of to-do’s of one kind or another. It is important, in your planning for the future to incorporate those foundational elements of mission, vision, and value, but also your larger overall, overarching, umbrella-like strategy. Now, once we take a look at types and you’ve made some decisions on which one might be most appropriate, (or if you need help reach out and we’ll be happy to walk you through the process or even facilitate it for you), then it is important to start looking at who are the people you will involve in the live session, or in the discussions, or even in having input at all in your plans for the future?
May I make a suggestion? Don’t limit the people involved in your plans for the future to only those who got you where you are thus far. Incorporate multiple generations. Incorporate multiple backgrounds, multiple perspectives, and multiple career levels, but also incorporate not just your board of directors, not just your C-suite leaders, but someone from that call center, who’s answering phones day to day, day in, day out and hearing the live customers complaining. Include someone from the front desk who sees exactly what patients complain about when they’re not happy. Bring in someone from the drive through window who hears exactly what they think about that number two on the menu. It’s essential that you incorporate multiple levels of people, multiple kinds of people, and multiple people, each of whom have a wide array of values. Incorporate people who have differences. Considering all those elements, it’s going to give you one heck of a robust plan for the future, but also it will also give you this nifty side benefit. The more people you include in what I call the full strategic planning process, or the live session in which you discussed final tweaks to your grid system before releasing this plan into the ether, the more likely you are to have people involved who are then going to be ambassadors. A side, neat benefit is not the way to look at the people who are going to talk about this process. Ambassadors are instead, those who will be significantly of influence. You might even think of them as “big mouths” who are well-connected, know lots of people, and quite frankly, can’t keep a secret. If you have those people, celebrate because they’re the ones who will pave the way for the awareness of changes coming in the future as well as, say it with me now, engagement in this planning process and the carrying out of the plan in the future.
The last good guideline or area that’s important to focus on, when it comes to making plans for your future, particularly post-pandemic, is simply identifying your preferred process. The most straightforward process is one in which you select a number of people who create a strategic planning committee and then you have an external leader interview each of those people with a specific set of questions. This is the method we’re using right now with a client. Once those interviews are complete, we then fill in the grid that you saw on the screen earlier. The participants then look at it via email, revise, look, poke holes in, and share feedback. Then we revise the template and send out a second version. They get to look at, percolate, think on and contemplate any tweaks or adjustments needed for them. Then comes the live session and in the live session, it’s about finalization of what’s in that plan, not the creation of it. Depending on the process you choose and where your particular audience might be in their knowledge, or maturity, or readiness to take action and implement, the processes may vary and you having a live session to do just tweaks may not be realistic. You may need two or three live sessions to first, educate people on where we’re going, why, and why we need to plan to get there. Second, to have everyone involved in filling out your initial draft grid if you choose to use that template and third to go through the tweaking process. The process you choose is every bit about the people you involve in it and then the larger decision is what type of plan and plan model are you considering using?
You can make plans for the future and I know it sounds wild and completely crazy that we think we can plan more than for just today, but it’s an important exercise to at least get clear on where you’d like to be going in your own, your team’s, and maybe even your company’s future. What would you like to be experiencing and what would you like to see happen? For those, you have the privilege of leading, make those plans for the future. Heck, they may change. If nothing else in the last few months has become clear, anything’s possible. But, if you have a plan you have a far higher chance of being prepared and of actually putting that plan into action. If you have no plan, you’ll just end up wherever the river takes you, so to speak. Lots of phrases around that, of which I’m sure you have your own favorite, but in the meantime, consider the model, the people, and your plan process, and those three elements will help you have an even more effective plan for the future, which of course means more momentum and larger outcomes.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment with a post-pandemic edition. I look forward to talking with you next time and in the meantime, have a fantastic Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious! And, if you’re not already part of the contagious community, maybe it’s time we fix that. Go to contagiouscompanies.com, wait for the box to pop up in the middle, enter your name and email, and you will receive your very own Monday Moments on a weekly basis.
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Monica Wofford, CSP is a celebrated leader who develops future leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm delivers and designs leadership training for managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared, and the leaders who promoted them. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica and members of the Contagious team may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.