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Practically Speaking AMA recap: Strategic planning and business strategy

Practically Speaking AMA recap: Strategic planning and business strategy

4 Minute Read

Read our AMA recap to discover our answers to your most pressing questions about strategic planning and business strategy as part of the Practically Speaking series.

MNP’s Mary Larson, Kevin Joy, Nicole Asselin, and Kathryn Graham joined us on LinkedIn on April 6, 2023, to share their insights and actionable tips with business owners and organizational leaders about all things related to strategic planning and business strategy.

Consulting Services
Leader, Consulting – Organizational Renewal

Thank you to everyone who joined us on LinkedIn on April 6, 2023, to learn more about strategic planning and business strategy as part of our Practically Speaking series.

During this session, MNP’s Mary Larson, Kevin Joy, Nicole Asselin, and Kathryn Graham shared their insights and actionable tips about all things related to strategic planning and business strategy. If you were not able to attend this session, we’ve summarized their insights for you below:

Q: What is the first step to take when developing a strategic plan?

The first step would be to consider the process that makes sense for your organization. Gathering information to understand the current state, both internally and in the context of the organization's external environment, is an effective way to start the process.

Q: How can I scale this process to meet my budget and/or needs?

Organizations sometimes underestimate the amount of information they already have about the marketplace. Pulling this together internally can help manage costs and shorten the timeframe. External advisors come with processes and tools, which also helps keep the planning process on track and more disciplined.

Many small to medium-sized organizations are in need of strategic planning and need to scale the experience so that they still get the benefit but at an investment level they can accommodate. We can change our approach to understanding the current state of your organization and in how we work with your group to design the strategic plan. We can also support you with implementation to bring it to life.

The key is to do something, even if it’s just a refresh of past plans.

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Q: Who is the best suited person at an organization to deliver on / ensure the success of the strategy?

The CEO or Executive Director is ultimately accountable for the successful implementation of the strategic plan. That said, there will be a need for other leaders in the organization to support the implementation. Take the opportunity to assign implementation activities to leaders, clarify roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, and ensure progress is communicated throughout.

The Board also has an important role for oversight of the strategy, and in holding the organization accountable for moving forward with implementation of the plan.

Q: What is the role of the external advisor?

Your external advisor can help your team stay on course with the process you have decided on. They can help you develop information about external markets or technology shifts, ensure that the tough questions get asked and addressed, and spur creativity. But the strategy has to be yours! The external advisor is only there to help you get the best strategic plan for your organization.

An advisor can also help design the process, working with you to consider what will work best, and to facilitate working sessions to ensure meaningful, productive discussion. We are essentially a guide and advisor to support a productive, efficient, impactful process.

Q: Is there an ideal timeframe to plan strategies for, such as three, five, or 10 years?

It depends! The nature of the business may require longer-term thinking when there are major capital investments or significant market shifts. In the more recent highly dynamic environment, many companies are finding three years is a more realistic horizon to anticipate. It's also important to review your plan every year to ensure it stays relevant in the current context

If you want to think about the longer term — which is important for many sectors where you need to think about major technology shifts or capital investments that need to be made — scenario planning can be a really useful tool to consider options and their implications.

Q: Who exactly should be involved in the planning process?

Key stakeholders within the organization need to be involved in the planning process. The executive and management leadership should be materially involved in providing their input and perspectives about the short- and longer-term goals of the organization and how to integrate that in the strategic planning process and output. Where possible, we recommend key leaders from the strategic side of the business as well as the operations side of the business should be involved.

It’s also good to cascade the thinking throughout the organization to get the right input and engagement.

Q: How do we customize the planning process to our needs?

While strategic planning can follow an established process, it is important to tailor the approach to suit and respect the needs of your organization and culture. We’ve seen clients that prefer a very collaborative approach, and they want to involve their entire management teams.

In those cases, each leader is able to weigh in with their perspectives about what is working and how they’d like the organization to move forward. In other cases, some organizations prefer to keep the planning to a smaller group.

There are also other ways to engage with the organization — from interviews, to surveys, to facilitated sessions (virtual or in-person) — there are many ways to tailor the experience to align with your needs and preferences.

Q: We always get questions from clients about the Board — what is its role in Strategic Planning?

It’s important for the Board to be involved in establishing the high-level direction for the organization, including the Mission or Purpose of the organization and values, as well as the long-term goals or vision.

A committee of the Board may have a greater role in working with the management team. Ultimately the Board should approve the strategic plan to confirm direction to the CEO and/or Executive Director.

Q: How do I make time to plan when I have so much going on?

You no doubt have meetings with your management team already. You can set aside some time in these meetings to think about strategy. But the very best thing is to set aside some time and take your team off site to really focus on the strategy. It will induce fresh thinking!

Take the next steps

Stay up to date through our social channels and our weekly Real Talk Tuesday newsletter.

Contact us

Contact an MNP advisor for more information about strategic planning and business strategy. We’re here to help you through every step of your journey.

Nicole Asselin, MBA, CMC, Partner
[email protected] 

Kathryn Graham, MBA, CMC, Consulting Services
[email protected] 

Kevin Joy, MBA, Partner
[email protected] 

Mary Larson, MBA, ICD.D, Partner
[email protected] 


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