Why should managers in all types of organizations learn strategic planning?
Whether you hire strategy consultants to do your strategic planning, or do it “in house”, there is still great benefit from providing your executive and managers with training in strategic planning. In fact, I believe the need for internal skills in strategic leadership and management, and training in strategic planning will continue to increase based on several factors:
1. The need to provide career paths and opportunities to retain the best employees.
This will include providing professional development programs for managers and employees, such that they can develop advanced managerial skills to progress to senior levels of management.
Strategic Planning skills encompass many senior level competencies, including: strategic orientation, analytical thinking, effective decision making and business acumen. Therefore, providing your current and future managers with training in strategic planning will help position them for senior management positions, while also providing benefit to your organization by developing these competencies internally.
2. The need for companies to stay competitive in an increasingly complex and global environment.
Organizations need to think and act strategically to both gain and keep their advantage. In fact, their survival may depend on it as they face competitors from other countries that may be able to provide lower cost and/or more unique products and services. Therefore, strategic planning skills can help your organization develop capacity to think and act strategically.
So even if you hire strategy consultants, you need internal knowledge to understand and implement the plan. Managers that have knowledge of the strategic planning process will be able to educate others and be champions for implementing the plan. Through training in strategic planning, they will be able to link the performance of their business units, and each employee to the corporate strategy. It will help in developing strategic thinking skills.
3. Competition is not restricted just to private enterprise.
All types of organizations will need to compete for employees with specialized talent. Not-for-profits may essentially compete with each other for donor funding and skilled volunteers. And government organizations will need to demonstrate value to remain relevant. Strategic planning and strategic thinking skills will be essential to survive and thriving in a changing world.
Not all organizations have the budget to hire strategic planning consultants, and may rely on having internal staff or volunteers develop the strategic plan. But do the people leading your strategic planning process actually have the necessary skills to develop an effective and actionable plan? Sadly, many organizations have had frustrating and unproductive results due to lack of knowledge of the full strategic planning process. So it’s important to make sure that strategic planning training covers the full range of best practices.
So what elements should be included for training in strategic planning?
Set Learning Objectives
First, there needs to be clear learning objectives. What do you want to be able to DO as a result of this course? In my e-learning course “Effective Strategic Plans”, I have outlined 3 major learning objectives. At the end of the course, participants will be able to:
- Develop an effective strategic planning framework based on best practices
- Identify and collect objective and relevant facts to support decision making
- Assess options to decide on the best course of action
A good course should have some assessment process to determine if objectives have been met. In my course, I use a detailed self-evaluation form that’s based upon the learning objectives. Participants will be able to assess their own skills. They can even go back to previous lessons to strengthen certain areas.
The way I have approached the Effective Strategic Plans course is to first look at pitfalls or barriers that cause strategic planning to be ineffective. I have outlined these in the following slide share:
Then we also consider the 5 criteria for an effective strategic plan which I discussed in a previous post.
From there, we look at techniques and tools to both apply the criteria and remove barriers.
This e-learning course develops both strategic thinking and practical skills in strategic planning that managers can readily apply in the workplace without onerous systems and processes. But of course, the way to develop real competency is to get in there and start applying what you have learned!
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The Strategic Manager Learning System lets you learn at your own pace, without large chunks of time and money! Learn how to lead an effective strategic planning process and other essential management skills. Find out how it works in this brief video, and visit our learning system to view our courses.