52,200,000 results in .5 seconds, that is the number of results you get by Googling “strategic planning in business”. Clearly strategic planning is an important topics and there have been thousands of articles written on it, including the one I shared last week. So what more could there possibly be to say?
There are five business bonuses outcomes of a deliberated contemplation period while developing strategy.
Stay with me for a minute.
“True strategy is about placing bets and making hard choices. The objective is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success.”
~Rodger L. Martin
Strategic planning sets a direction for your organization to head towards, clarifies what you want to achieve by going in this direction. Then you decide if trying to do this is worth the risk. Making the big picture choices is essential “for setting priorities, making investment decisions, and laying out growth plans” (Ashkenas and Chandler, 2013). Then you can get cracking on the nitty-gritty of putting the strategy into action, and creating detailed implementation plans and budgets.
Yes, you know this but what does this have to do with bonus outcomes and contemplation?
Taking the time to contemplate assumptions, the risks, and the what makes the most sense of for the long term future not only increases the odds of success there are other positive effects.
Five Bonuses Outcomes of Contemplation as a Strategic Planning Stage
Creates Organizational Alignment. Both Kelly, who I mentioned in my previous article (Link) and I have found that people mistake considering an idea to mean that an organization, or a person, is committed to and actually ready to make a decision. “I am/We thinking about” does not equal, “I am/We are” doing. Your team needs to be aligned on “I am/We are” in order for the nitty-gritty of pursuing a strategy That’s why engaging people ahead of time to do their own thinking about the pros/and cons of a particular choice (insert link), is important. When people are able to think through the above questions and create their own reasoning for moving forward with a specific strategy you assure everyone is on the same page.
Eliminates Confusion. Once a big picture decision has been made and it is communicated clearly to your team, a great deal confusion of about the future is eliminated.
Immunity to Seductive Unnecessary Sidetracks. You also develop immunity to seductive opportunities that don’t align with your strategy because it’s been well thought through.
Makes Planning Times Shorter. Yes, there are times when a quick decision is needed. Once you’ve taken the time to contemplate in the past its often easier to make a quick decision- action now. Your mind draws on past experiences, insights, and knowledge and applies that information to the present situation.
Decreases Stress, Increases Productivity. Contemplation is shown to reduce unproductive workplace stress and promotes curiosity and creativity. Employees who purposely engage in some type of contemplative practice, tend to experience more productivity, and job satisfaction, as well as, less stress (Davidson RJ, Kabat-Zinn J, et al 2003). A clear mind is good for the person and good for the organization.
Contemplation is not idle time it is time well spent that leads to numerous benefits. Invest in your strategic planning.
Deirdre Danahar is an executive coach and organizational consultant helping high performing people and teams be forward-thinking, enhance performance and improve their bottom line by making themselves and their communities better. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.