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[Author: Andrew E. Goodman, 01.17 | Keywords: Executive Insight, Management]

Occasionally, I am asked to assist senior management teams or boards of directors with long range or strategic planning. At the outset, I usually find a lack of understanding in regards to the duties and obligations of the board and a degree of dysfunctionality within the group.

To help rectify this situation, I typically suggest a five step approach:

  1. Analyze each individual board member and senior manager
  2. Understand the important characteristics of directors and managers
  3. Develop an explanation of the strategic planning procedure
  4. Identify the functions and responsibilities of directors and officers
  5. Develop the strategic plan

Step 1 usually involves asking all directors and senior managers to complete a Myers-Briggs personality test, a worthwhile process for any organization. This testing and analysis provides a picture of the personality traits of each director. Findings are then applied to Step 2.

Step 2 determines the organizational balance of a business or organization. I address how to balance the triangle of Marketing, Product and Operations in my column “The Organizational Balance of Business,” which ran in the 2016 Sept/Oct issue of The Retailer. All organizations, including businesses, are driven by marketing (the needs of the customer). Products, in turn, are created from marketing information. And operations includes the financing, bricks and mortar, staff and other assets needed to produce the product and deliver it to the customer. Once this balance is achieved, we begin to see the strengths of each personality and how they fit together to build a strong organization with a balanced decision-making capability.

Step 3 is a discussion that defines strategic planning in advance of putting the plan together. In order to have an effective strategic plan to implement, it is important to define the vision and mission of the organization, the processes used to establish goals and objectives, and to create and implement action plans. The vision is what the organization wants to be and the mission is what it wants to do.

Step 4 details the functions and responsibilities of the directors and officers. Often, people think that just because someone has been in a leadership position they automatically understand the roles and responsibilities of directors and officers. Often, this is not the case. The larger an organization the more important it becomes that the roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, documented and understood and that any governance and compliance issues are handled.

Step 5 is the actual strategic planning process. Groundwork should be done well in advance and include a clear vision and mission, as well as a process for goals, objectives and action plans. In addition, the plan should include marketing information, product and infrastructure, and an approach toward balancing the strengths of the organization.