The idea of strategic planning is so deeply ingrained in our understanding of business that most leaders routinely set goals. But many companies fall short of attaining their goals because they lack the necessary suite of strategic planning disciplines. Goals can drive strategy execution—but only when they align with the company’s mission and present imperatives, account for all functional areas, and enable agile adaptation as circumstances change.
Last year, COVID-19 universally disrupted businesses. Now, we are returning to typical inconsistent disruptions. While some may throw up their hands and conclude a dynamic VUCA marketplace negates the merit of strategic planning, it actually underscores the necessity of planning disciplines, agile frameworks, OODA loops, and PDCA cycles anchored in a resilient, vision-aligned scorecard.
The point of a rigorous planning discipline is to increase and institutionalize
a team’s agility, not its rigidity or fragility.
In the description of tribes in King David’s army, the men of Issachar were known to have an “understanding of the times” (1 Chron. 12:32). They may not have been the smartest or most educated leaders, but they were skilled at discerning their context, they knew where to lead the nation, and they were aligned as a unified team. We don’t know what our future holds, but we do know that much will be required of us. We need to be Issacharian leaders today—disciplined and focused leaders who faithfully shepherd our employees, families, and communities.
We are in a position to build, expand, and create gospel-demonstrating platforms at a pivotal time in history. Culture, adaptability, resilient innovation, and high-performance teams are critical to maintain as we navigate our prevailing state of affairs. Where acute brokenness exists, stewards with a “greater purpose” mentality must build up businesses that bring healing.
A Balanced Scorecard for BaaMs
There are several planning and execution “operating systems” to choose from. Using a formal framework prompts us to evaluate our challenges and capabilities, define our goals and measures, communicate plans, and celebrate progress.
First popularized by Kaplan and Norton, balanced scorecards drive alignment, execution, and measurement of strategic objectives across business functions. C12 has adapted this methodology to build great businesses for a greater purpose in its signature 5-Point Alignment Matrix (5PAM), integrating ministry as an additional dimension for goal setting and tracking.
Mission, vision, and values are at the heart of the 5PAM. The arrows emanating outward from the hub indicate that these core principles shape and guide everything in our businesses, including policies, practices, processes, priorities, decisions, and goals. The arrows pointing inward to the center signify the contribution made by each functional area of the business toward achieving our mission and vision.
C12’s adaptation is unique in that it encourages leaders to examine each functional area of the business in relation to the others. Our business strategy must be contextual, considering the entirety of our businesses, by developing specific goals and strategies for each functional area. To maximize results, leaders must make their objectives and plans known throughout the organization and recalibrate to progress frequently. Each of these components of the planning process is necessary to prioritize efforts properly and engage stakeholders appropriately.
Working Smart and Fast
Based on data from more than 4,000 respondents across 124 organizations, only 28% of executives and middle managers responsible for executing strategy could list three of their company’s strategic priorities. In The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni teaches that organizational health depends on creating, communicating, and reinforcing clarity around a company’s core principles, strategies, and objectives. Leaders must drive team alignment by setting ambitious targets, translating them into specific metrics and milestones, making them known throughout the organization, and frequently discussing their progress. We can build goals that are both SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based) as well as FAST (frequently discussed, ambitious, specific, and transparent).
When corporate goals are embedded in ongoing discussions, team members can align their actions with the organization’s overall direction, and leaders can review progress, allocate resources, and prioritize initiatives. Strategies that influence day-to-day activities are simple enough for leaders at every level of the organization to understand, communicate, and remember. Making goals ambitious, rather than just achievable, minimizes the risk of setting overly conservative targets.
“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of ‘emergency’ is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.”
—Dwight D. Eisenhower
Considering the VUCA nature of the current marketplace, preparing a single plan or budget is a bit naïve. C12’s 5PAM Risk Mitigation Tool, Strategic Risk Discovery and Mitigation Tool, and Antidotes to VUCA worksheet enable the thorough exploration of options and contingencies. This is crucial to selecting the appropriate actions as future events unfold. We recommend reviewing quarterly to reset resource plans as needed.
When a pandemic hits and your industry starts to crumble, you’d think any strategic plan would go out the window. The recent success at Hanson Logistics proves a robust planning discipline is actually the key for a business to overcome volatility and uncertainty. Hear from C12 member Ken Whah, Hanson’s President & CEO.
How nimble are your strategies? How resilient is your team? Download our Strategic Planning Guide to align your leadership team and build a strong yet adaptable plan for 2022.