For strategic planning to be successful the corporate culture needs to allow for the exploration of new ideas and encourage candid debate.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”
~ Peter Drucker
Creating a sound strategic plan takes time, a lot of hard work and an open mind – gathering market intelligence, analyzing information, figuring out what it all means, evaluating options, making trade-offs, and so on. These are all key facets of developing a sound business strategy not to be underestimated in their importance to the outcome of the planning process.
The key obstacle to successful strategic planning has little to do with your ability to gather market intelligence or crunch numbers.
It’s the corporate culture that’s the main roadblock to good planning, developing a smart strategic plan, and the committed implementation of the business strategy.
Corporate Culture Beats Business Strategy
Here are some personal attitudes and facets of corporate culture that can stand in the way of an organization’s ability to have open, productive discussions about the state of the business, explore new opportunities, and develop a smart strategy for taking the business forward.
This is not meant as a harsh critique but think of it as an opportunity for management to be self-aware and look at in the mirror.
- Short-term thinking
- Low tolerance for risk
- Conflict avoidance
- Lack of accountability
- Fear of failure
- Inability to listen
- Lack of creativity
If you recognize some of these traits in your organization, you have sufficient self-awareness to start breaking out of a destructive corporate culture. It’s very difficult to change the corporate culture on your own. You’ll probably need to work with a business coach to improve the company culture and the prevalent attitudes, but at least you’ve started to acknowledge the issues.
On the other hand, if you think that your firm shows none or perhaps just one or two of these symptoms, either you’re very fortunate and your business has the right corporate culture for conducting strategic planning, or you could be in denial of the cultural obstacles your company is facing.
In the latter case, it will be difficult to have open, honest discussions about the changes your organization needs to make to become more successful. Before you commit the time, money, and effort to develop a strategic plan make sure that you understand the culture within your firm and how attitudes within the organization impact the ability to start working on business strategy.
It is very important to have an environment in which anything and everything can be discussed in a candid, rational manner, without emotions getting in the way, and without fear of reprisals. If that environment is not present, any attempt at business strategy development is going to be futile. You’ll have to work on improving the corporate culture first, before you can embark on any strategic planning initiatives.
Get Ready for Strategic Planning
So what does it take to be ready for strategic planning? Here are a number of personal and corporate culture traits that are very important to productive strategic planning (not necessarily in any order of importance):
- Challenge the status-quo
- Think outside-the-box
- Candid discussions
- Know what you don’t know
- Think big
- Recognize shortcomings
- Comfortable with uncertainty
- Long-term approach
What do you think? I’m looking forward to your response.