Is Your Strategic Plan in SHAPE?

As much as we try, there are some things that come naturally and some things that don’t.

One of those “love-it-or-hate-it” activities is business planning, also known as strategic planning. The whole point of doing this is to define your organization’s:

  • overall direction (Strategy),
  • which goals you want to achieve (Objectives),
  • using which actions and resources (Tactics), and
  • how you’ll know it was successful (Measures).

I abbreviate Vision, Mission, Values, Objectives, and Measures with the acronym VMVOM.

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How to Recognize Implicit Bias After What Happened to Starbucks

A recent event at a coffee shop in Philadelphia has stirred controversy about subconscious bias, corporate policies, and how to repair a company’s fractured reputation.

In this article, I explain:

  • the facts behind this event (including quotes from the young men, Starbucks leaders, Philadelphia police and Mayor, and other experts)
  • What are Policies and Procedures?
  • When the Enforcement of Policy Shows an Underlying Bias
  • Starbucks’ Official Statement
  • Taking Action: What You Can Do to Prevent a Starbucks-Like Incident
  • The 7 Symptoms of Implicit Bias, and
  • My Conclusion

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The Ultimate Strategic Planning Framework Tool: A Detailed Review

Your strategic plan doesn’t belong in a cabinet like a set of fine china. In my last post, I talked about the many benefits of using a Strategic Planning Framework:

  • a clear vision for the future
  • foresee vulnerabilities and dangers
  • identify areas of healthy growth
  • effectively get control of your company

This simple tool answers 3 important questions:

  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. What is required?
  3. How will we do it?

Within these questions are a variety of areas that should be included in your strategic planning process. Let’s look at each of them in more detail.

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The Ultimate Strategic Planning Framework Tool: Introduction

My great-grandmother, like most women in the early 1900s, had two sets of dishes. One was a plain set for everyday family meals, and the other was a very fancy set that she only brought out on special occasions. Each plate, cup, and saucer was decorated with a design of delicate pink roses, curled ivy, and a beautiful gold inlay that encircled the scalloped edges.

She left the set to my grandmother, who then passed it on to my mother, who quickly discovered that fine china with gold detail is no match for the power of a modern dishwasher. The inconvenience of hand-washing every single item (and the risk of chipping or breaking the dishes) was too great. So those heirloom dinner dishes were hidden away in a china cabinet and only emerged on rare occasions.

As a strategic risk expert, I believe many leaders treat their strategic plan like a set of fine china. They know their plan is important; they invest time and money to create it. The final plan is detailed, logical, and beautiful.

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Dante’s Inferno From a Strategic Perspective

When you hear the words “Dante” and “Inferno,” your initial thought is probably something like this:

  • Some guy named Dante wrote it a long time ago
  • It’s a book about the levels of hell
  • The Catholic faith has something to do with it
  • There’s something about “comedy,” but not in the traditional sense
  • I might have read the book in high school

Up until recently, that’s pretty much all I knew about this classic work. But what gems of wisdom are hidden in those lyrical texts? I decided to find out.

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Yin and Yang and the 5 Risk Roles of Executive Leaders

Diversity, transparency, empathy.

When organizations welcome these qualities while maintaining structure and stability, they’re ahead of the game.

It is often difficult to find the right balance between an aggressive approach and a passive one when managing a business. In this article, I will describe the 5 types of risk, the 5 risk roles of executive leaders, and how these apply to balancing the Yin and Yang of Management.

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Overview of the 5 Types of Strategic Risk

Strategic planning is a fascinating and complicated process. There is no “correct” way to create a strategic plan; every leadership team has a unique definition of where the company is going or how you’ll get there.

While this wide range of options allows for tremendous latitude and flexibility, a company’s planning process can be TOO easygoing. It’s a bit like having a body with all the bones connected (immobilized) and one that has no bones at all (a bowl of jelly). Both extremes — too rigid or too relaxed — make it easier for threats to creep in and destroy what you’ve worked so hard to create.

Most organizations use a Strategic Plan (though certainly not all, in my experience). And most plans define the company’s Vision, Mission, Values, Objectives, and Measures — which I abbreviate as VMVOM.

But while a plan can look great on paper, most strategic plans do not consider strategic risks.

In this post, I’ll review 5 types of risks specific to the strategic planning process, and which one I believe is the most critical to organizational growth.

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Yin and Yang Approaches to Management

Balance is very difficult for leaders. When things go wrong, many of us find it hard to stay calm, cool, and collected.

Leaders are expected to meet objectives, yet also be approachable. To maintain control, but welcome differing opinions. To motivate staff, yet manage ongoing risks.

A few years ago, I was hired as director at a healthcare facility in Minnesota. It was a perfect fit for my experience and training. The leadership team was encouraging, as were the members of my department. And I really loved being in a long-term care environment.

But despite all the support, I found myself increasingly stressed and anxious. The problem wasn’t just the high-pressure environment; instead, it was a battle happening in my mind. As an introvert, I do my best work in periods of silence and reflection. My information-gathering process is intuitive, because I rely on connections between things that are not obvious to others. Rather than following a specific pathway, I look for hidden clues and investigate the root causes of problems. My process may be unconventional, but it gets results.

Unfortunately, executive roles typically do not welcome an intuitive thinking process. And this clash — between my natural temperament, and a system that rewards fast and decisive action — resulted in a very high-stress environment.

I wondered:

Why was it so difficult for intuitive leaders to fit the mold of traditional corporate thinking?

and

Is it possible to find a balanced leadership style?

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