Four Styles of Strategic Planning

What if there was a way to make strategic planning enjoyable and productive for everyone on your team?  Don’t believe that is possible?  I think it is, and keep reading to find out how!

I attended a seminar by James Glavin a few years ago, at which he suggested that many of us in leadership have been operating with an incomplete picture of how strategic planning should be done within our organizations.  The presentation was both fascinating and practical, and there were two giant “aha” moments that changed my leadership.

Aha #1 – At the risk of over-simplifying what Glavin said, he suggested that the traditional “objectives – goals – strategies” model of strategic planning reflects the interests of only 15% of the population.  That was great news to hear since, while I know that style is important, it doesn’t breathe life into me or my leadership.

So what about the other 85%?  Are there different styles of planning that might better fit our teams and organizations?  The good news is yes, there are!

There are four planning styles, and each of us will resonate most closely with one of them.

  1. The Visionary (Domain and Direction Planning) – You create and use a strategic map (either written down or mental) to move ahead.  You see past the horizon, and you know that where you are is not where you want to be. You know what the destination is in general, and you’ll figure out the next steps as you go along.
  2. The Processor (Objectives Oriented Planning) – If this is your planning style, you gravitate toward goals, objectives, milestones, 1-3-5-10 year plans, and the relationship between each of them.  You know the process and order of the steps that you need to take to move closer to the final destination.
  3. The Administrator (Task Oriented Planning) – Your primary methodology is to make lists of everything that you need to do.  You are less concerned about the final destination, and more concerned about what has to happen in order to actualize the steps needed to get there.
  4. The Doer (Present Oriented Planning) – Your primary focus is on what is happening right now.  Someone else’s plans are nice, but somebody has to do something today if things are going to happen.  And that person is you.

Each of these four planning styles can be further expanded through conversation and hands and training (ideally with a Birkman assessment), but we can get the basic idea from the short descriptions above.

As you read through the list, you probably found yourself gravitating to one (maybe two) of the planning styles.  If you are the leader of a team, you might also have done the same thing for each of your team members.

What is my style?  What are the other team member’s styles?  And most importantly, how do these styles work together?

Aha #2 – The full power of organizational strategic planning is experienced when the four styles link together like perfectly connected puzzle pieces.  Each piece is critical to the overall picture, and each one plays an essential role in successfully achieving the desired outcome.

In terms of developing a truly collaborative team-based planning process, here is the last critical piece that I am discovering: As the senior leader of the team, it is my responsibility to ensure that each person’s voice is given the platform at the correct time in the planning process so that each voice is heard appropriately.

In other words, the team leader must strategically give up control at the right time so that the strength of each team member matches the specific need of the stage of the planning process that the team is in.  An organization’s success depends on the entire leadership team, not just the team leader.

There is a lot to think about when it comes to effective and collaborative team-based planning, isn’t there?  I feel like I am only just beginning!

What about you?

What have you experienced in terms of integrative team-based strategic planning?  Where have you seen success, and where have you experienced challenges?  What advice, suggestions, or questions do you have?

Tags :
ceo,leadership,strategic planning,team,vision
Share This :

Recent Posts

Scroll to Top