When it comes to planning, success starts with a distinction between Strategic and Tactical Planning. While great leaders can often see the future they can fail at seeing a plan at a detailed enough level to execute effectively. And while tacticians can get granular and follow plans, they sometimes fail to see the forest for the trees. The best of the best collaborate with both teams to get goals accomplished.
The first and most important place to start is at a Strategic level. Gaining some elevation and posing some vision questions is critical if our aim is to get outside the box. Keep the naysayers out and paint the future first. Here are our suggestions:
- Start with the big picture by building an executive team’s target vision. We look at today, what we call State A and then we look at the future, what we call State B. Knowing where we want to end up is a powerful attraction and can galvanize a team and inspire others. Get clarity here.
- Next, ask the team to describe the activities they would be doing once they execute the vision. See it. How would the company behave if the goals were reached? What would be the scene and what are the emotions?
- Third, question all assumptions. Nothing is sacred in a Strategic meeting. Throw alternatives out, challenge basic underlying paradigms. If ideas keep getting up, respect them.
Once a Strategic Plan is in place, the next tier of planning must be of a Tactical level in order to execute. Not surprising, Tactical Planning is often not the strength of the first group. Bring in the people who are accountable for seeing ideas through to completion and respect their opinions regarding time and expenses.
- Bring the project management people into the room and get them to see the vision. Absent a strong buy in, they might get stuck with the obstacles. And slow down! Give them time to process and don’t be dissuaded by obstacles and objections. It’s how they buy in!
- Place all the main outcomes of the vision into hierarchies and plot a pathway through them considering a logical order of go and big milestone markers. The big idea here is to allow for the plan to become linear in execution.
- Explode each milestone into a mind-map of ideas, resources, costs, timeframes, challenges ect. Explore obstacles - don’t avoid them. Allow the detail minds to have time to get into the weeds but don’t let them stay there too long!
- Have them create a Tactical Plan – a fully executable game plan that includes project rationales, order of go, timelines, accountabilities, and resources required to execute. If the plan isn’t specific enough, send it back.
Moving the world with big ideas requires more than big ideas. The combination of Strategic and Tactical planning is essential to take ideas and make them come to life in your business. Embrace the differences between these teams and leverage their innate skill set to see your future realized.