Strategic Planning Best Practices

At Diamond Growth Partners we see transformations of poor or good businesses to great businesses by applying the strategic planning best practices. This happens when leadership, culture, people, strategic plan, and execution are all working in concert with each other. The author of Good to Great, Jim Collins said, “The point is to first get self-disciplined people who engage in very rigorous thinking, who then take disciplined action within the framework of a consistent system designed around the Hedgehog Concept.” Diamond Growth Partners firmly believes in this concept and approach. The question is, who are “self-disciplined people” and what is a “consistent system designed around the Hedgehog Concept?”

Strategic Planning Best Practices

Let Us Start with Leadership

A leader of an organization is responsible for setting the tone for the company’s culture, hiring, staff development, strategic objectives, initiatives, and the strategic plan’s execution. The strategic planning stage should be done well. Therefore, creating a high performing team and culture and ensuring it runs at peak performance is a critical task. The leadership team should receive a formal assessment of their preferred work styles, emotional IQ, and approach to conflict resolution. This is a great time to do such an assessment before crafting the future vision for the company.

Focus on High Performing Culture

Strengthening a high-performing culture should be established in the strategic planning stage. It is based on the core values of integrity, respect, and collaboration. These core values ensure a better working environment providing a safe and productive team culture. The author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni highlights that most teams do not reach high performance because they experience one or more major dysfunctions. These include the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. So, leaders must ensure the conditions are right within their organization for their staff to flourish and collaborate.

Self-Disciplined People

Many people would call “self-disciplined people” by their more common nickname of “A” players. However, just finding “A” players is not enough. Assembling “A” players that do not play together as a team will lead to sub-optimal results. For example, the 2004 men’s USA basketball team took home the bronze medal, and not the gold. This happened despite having team members like LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, among other greats. So, to create and lead a high-performing organization, a leader needs to ensure he/she first creates a high-performing culture.

Assess Your Team

A good start to assessing your current team is to rate them on (1) their ability to model your core values and (2) their fit in their role, team, with your culture, and leadership. The hiring process should also leverage these assessment frameworks so that high-performing individuals are hiring high-performing teammates. The goal is to have a high-performing team of “A” players working in a high-performing culture. This helps your team reach peak performance ensuring the ongoing success of the organization.

Hedgehog Concept

The three circles of Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept ask the questions; what are you deeply passionate about?; what can you be the best in the world at?; and, what drives your economic engine? All intersect. The intersection point is your “Hedgehog Concept” for your business. This “Hedgehog Thinking” is a systematic way of thinking that helps build, support, and grow organizations. It is our innate cognitive tool to understand the complex web of relationships between businesses, products, customers, and what makes them tick. It helps us remain calm during explosive changes, correct our analysis before jumping to conclusions, and deduce ideas by comparing their strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, it constructs a framework of disciplined, data-driven thinking that will get us past obstacles and lead us to success.

Ensure a Solid Strategic Plan

Teams that use “Hedgehog Thinking” report feeling empowered, capable, and productive in a world that demands rapid decision-making, but lacks the quiet, steady pragmatism of simplicity and orderliness. The creation of a solid Hedgehog Concept is usually done via offsite meetings with your executive team. A strategic plan outlining your strategic objectives with the corresponding strategic initiatives all based upon your Hedgehog Concept is the goal.

In Summary

Once leadership is leading with a clear vision and direction, and the staff and culture are optimally matched, then the Hedgehog Concept via a solid strategic plan can be executed with the high-performing team. The team of “self-disciplined people” sitting in the “right seats on the bus” guided by the solid strategic plan, and accountable to the initiatives will provide the traction required to move your organization forward.

If you need any help on strategic planning or improving your organization, please contact Diamond Growth Partners. Diamond Growth Partners is a strategy and management consulting firm for small to mid-market companies. So, contact us if you need help with leadership assessments, creating your desired culture, establishing a system of recruiting, and retaining “A” players, creating a high performing team, creating a Hedgehog Concept, creating a strategic plan, executing the strategic plan, and/or executing other operational improvement projects.

Jim Houlihan

Jim Houlihan

President of Diamond Growth Partners, LLC.

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