This is always a pleasure to get an opportunity to work with a CEO, who is accessible, responds to your questions and feedbacks in impressive time and drives an organisation with exemplary motivation and zeal, because of which, his employees feel ‘free to innovate and deliver results’. We are lucky to have such a CEO in SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, with whom; all the employees get opportunity to have an open chat in a month. In one of such chat sessions, I was asking my CEO about SNV’s strategic focus for next five years; mainly to understand, where do we [SNV] want to go and what do we want achieve and how quickly and efficiently we can do it together!
Response of my CEO for that question was built on his pragmatic understanding of the subject, which was evolved based on his long term engagement in planning and strategy development for government of Indonesia as well as his works with other development organisation and bi-lateral agencies. The answer was short and simple: ‘to survive in a competitive market, we need constantly evolving strategies and success is possible, even in a hostile environment. Long term planning may not work all the times although we can do a planning for plan sake’.
I believe the above mentioned statement reflects that understanding the value of and need for a strategic plan is a great place to start, but just wanting something, isn’t enough. Developing a strategic plan takes discipline, foresight, and a lot of honesty. Regardless how well we prepare, we are bound to encounter challenges along the way. I could find out six key points, which should be considered to introduce effective planning in organisation and translating it into real actions, which will bring us, closer to our goal of implementing a strategic plan that actually achieves results and improves our business.
- Understanding the environment or focusing on results. Planning teams must pay attention to changes in the business environment, set meaningful priorities, and understand the need to pursue results.
- Full commitment.Organisational leaders like CEOs, Managing Director, Country officers must be fully committed and fully understand how a strategic plan can improve their enterprise. Without this knowledge, it’s tough to stay committed to the process.
- Having the right people involved.Those charged with executing the plan should be involved from the onset. Those involved in creating the plan will be committed to seeing it through execution.
- Willingness to change. Organisation and our strategic plan must be nimble and able to adapt as market conditions change.
- Having the right people in leadership positions.Management must be willing to make the tough decisions to ensure the right individuals are in the right leadership positions. The “right” individuals include those who will advocate for and champion the strategic plan and keep the company on track. However, we must avoid micro-managers, which is very evident in many instance and I have witnessed such ‘management killers’’.
- Unrealistic goals or lack of focus and resources.Strategic plans must be focused and include a manageable number of goals, objectives, and programs. Fewer and focused is better than numerous and nebulous. Also be prepared to assign adequate resources to accomplish those goals and objectives outlined in the plan.
By adhering to these success factors, we can create an effective planning process, build a realistic business direction for the future, and greatly improve the chances for successful implementation of our strategy.
Keshav C Das, Senior Advisor, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation
New Delhi, March 01, 2015