Strategic planning is the process by which an organisation defines the projects, initiatives and actions (the plan) that will achieve their corporate vision or mission. It is traditionally very time-consuming with lots of data collection and meetings amongst executives. Once the plan is complete, it is presented as a fait accompli to the rest of the organisation to implement. However, ask any executive (over beer) and they’ll admit that this process doesn’t work – there are very few real innovations and the plan itself is usually out of date before it begins.
I want to get one thing out of the way; forget the 5-year plan. And while you’re at it, forget the 12-month plan as well. As an agile organisation, we want to move away from the traditional & static planning process towards a dynamic & agile strategy that can adapt as the market changes. We might also call this a “learning organisation”; one that uses an “inspect and adapt” feedback cycle to continuously create and refine their corporate strategy.
A quick side note: a common misconception is that agile corporate strategy means dividing up the plan and incrementally delivering it using Scrum – this is not what an agile corporate strategy is about. At best, that is “doing” agile not “being” agile.
Business agility and the strategic planning process An agile organisation starts in the same place as a traditional organisation – with the vision & business outcomes for the organisation. And while the vision may change to meet market demand, it usually changes very slowly. Executives come together to agree on, and align to, the vision and outcomes (and the part of it that they are accountable for) – but here’s where is diverges.