Seven steps for making your strategy sizzle.

Author:Czarnecki, Gerald M.

Follow this framework to craft a strategic plan for achieving success in the 21st century. For board members, this process encourages significant discussion, dialogue and engagement with management.

The traditional model for strategic planning had the board of directors playing a more passive role in the review and approval of the strategic plan. The experience of strategic crises in many companies has driven a growing consensus that the board must be more actively engaged, and on a more frequent basis.

It is critical that the board be engaged every step along the way. This is the true paradigm shift that is happening in more boardrooms. Ever since the report by the NACD Blue Ribbon Commission on Strategy Development in 2014, and then again reinforced in the Blue Ribbon Commission on Long-Term Value Creation in 2015, boards have been responding to the need for more engagement.

The Strategic Plan Process presented here encourages the board to collaborate with the leadership team to make strategy a crucial and significant part of every board meeting. The focus is to move away from the concept of a once a year (or even once every three years) planning retreat, and to incorporate the developmental and review process into the board meeting schedule.

The below framework moves to address this perspective and to lay out a structure that can encourage, even require, more board engagement. Further, this process encourages significant discussion, dialogue and engagement with management. It also put the burden on both the board and management to evaluate options. The key element of the paradigm shift is to cause robust analysis and discussion leading to an elimination of least-desired options and commitment to the best available path for success.

Step I: The Climate, Economy and the Future

The board gets an insight into the global and national economic environment. This is put into the context of both the geopolitical and national political environment. It also gets an external futurist perspective on the emerging cultural and technological trends that are changing the environment in which the company will operate. This is critical to set the stage for understanding what forces are causing the change in the industry. The theme here must incorporate an understanding of what forces for disruptive change are in play. It will focus on general trends, but will ultimately reveal the changes that will reshape the industries in which the company operates and...

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