Strategic planning is no longer a linear journey

Tamara Taylor, Director of Customer Success and Strategic Engagement at LeapPoint

LeapPoint, a three-time Workfront Partner of the Year, embraces the three pillars of transformation—people, process, and technology—and brings valuable expertise, best practices, and thought leadership to help organizations achieve sustainable results with Workfront. LeapPoint applies process knowledge and industry experience to Workfront implementations, configuring the solution to meet client needs and optimize processes.

When I think back to my days in higher education, we spent hundreds of hours developing our annual strategic plan. Together with countless committees, subcommittees, and teams, we identified priorities and initiatives that were grounded in the college’s mission and vision.

While intentions were good, strategic outcomes fell short. Why? The overall process took too long, and our rigid planning processes inhibited our ability to adapt to changing institutional needs or external factors.

Escape the corporate planning rut.

With conventional approaches to corporate planning and delivery, organizations painstakingly identify capabilities, determine critical resources, and mutually agree on a set of activities and key success factors. It’s a linear approach to planning that requires many upfront investments and lacks operational agility. It also leads to a disconnection between the strategy and its execution—the work actually being delivered by people in the organization. Employees are distanced from the planning process, making them feel the strategy is not relevant to their work.

Today, strategic planning needs to be executed in an ever-shifting landscape. Companies must be able to constantly adjust their priorities and adapt their plans. To survive change—and still be meaningful and effective—strategic plans need to be continuous and adaptive, and there needs to be a way to connect these ever-changing plans to the work people are doing on the ground. People need to understand the value of their individual contributions and know how their work aligns to bigger organizational goals.

The continuous planning cycle

Switch to continuous, adaptive planning.

These are the challenges I and other strategic planning specialists discussed in the webinar, “Level Up: How to Plan, Measure & Execute Strategic Growth Initiatives.” Along with Don McAdang, Managing Director, Marketing Services at LeapPoint, and Kate Tornatore, Director of Strategic Execution at Penn State World Campus, we discussed best practices and proven ways to improve strategic planning, alignment, and delivery as we plan for 2021.

Kate explained how Penn State World Campus, like other forward-thinking organizations, now sets its strategic goals against shorter planning cycles to realize outcomes and keep people focused on the right work. This continuous planning is enabled by re-engineered, nimble processes and supported by Workfront applications, Scenario Planner and Goals. This dynamic approach to planning gives everyone a clear line of sight into what’s possible, constantly revealing opportunities to increase business agility. As Kate says:

“As the world continues to change and unexpected factors arise, we’re constantly making small and large adjustments to our plans. We are able to make ‘smart responsive pivots,’ decisions that are derived from data, helping Penn State move forward and deliver on our institutional impacts.”

Technology is the agility enabler.

Continuous adaptive planning, enabled by Workfront Scenario Planner and Goals and the constant scrutiny of the data and insights they yield, enables work to be managed and realigned as required, in real time. It allows organizations to:

Business disruption is inevitable. The current environment we’re all navigating is a profound reminder of that disruption. And while risk is inherent, the uncertainties that amplify that risk can be mitigated by a company’s ability to proactively plan for and quickly respond to that uncertainty.

Continuous, adaptive, agile planning allows organizations to be more flexible, evaluate what’s working and what needs to change, and make the necessary adjustments on the fly. It creates the digital resilience organizations need to thrive in a world that never stands still for long.

Dynamic input. Better outcomes.

As organizations embark on large-scale, multi-departmental planning, they need dynamic feedback channels to capture best practices and key lessons learned, and inform them on necessary adjustments to processes and plans. Continuous, agile planning improves transparency and visibility, which builds mutual trust and results in better outcomes.

If your planning process is in a rut, you’re not alone. To learn how to close the gap between strategy and execution, and monitor performance to adjust quickly to market disruptions, please watch our webinar, “Level Up: How to Plan, Measure & Execute Strategic Growth Initiatives,” on demand. You’ll discover how the LeapPoint Maturity and Readiness Assessment can generate critical insights as you initiate your strategic planning and execution journey.