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Help! My organization needs a Strategic Plan, but I don't know where to start!

At Kane Learning, we specialize in customizing our support to the needs of our clients. In this blog post, we want to highlight a service we offer that has continued to grow over the last few years, and have you meet one of our consultants, Michelle White, who just so happens to have expertise in helping leaders create useful and actionable Strategic Plans.

Before I introduce Michelle and ask her questions about the work she does, let’s first ground on what Strategic Planning is, why we do it, and outline the process.


The WHAT and WHY of Strategic Planning

According to Entrepreneur: “Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy or direction and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy.”


So I’ll ask you a question - do you know your organization’s strategy?


If you do, great! Here’s a follow-up question: How much time do you dedicate to furthering that strategy each month?


If you don’t know, or you don’t spend time developing it, you are not alone. According to research, “48% of leaders spend less than one day per month discussing strategy.”


What gets in the way? You likely already know the answer to this: everything else! Investing in your company’s strategy tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list because while it’s important, it’s not urgent, and the everyday needs of the business are demanding.


Yet, we know investing time in strategy is a difference-maker for all organizations, no matter the industry. In fact, Strategic Planning is essential, especially for small and medium-sized organizations, because it helps you focus on the resources you have and how to best use them.


Often, businesses we talk to want to invest time and resources in strategic planning but don’t know where to start.


This is a great time for me to introduce you to a member of the Kane Learning team who knows a lot about strategic planning:

 

Meet Michelle White!

Michelle specializes in executive coaching, mentoring, and

organizational leadership. She is passionate about helping individuals, teams, and companies achieve their goals and objectives. Michelle's past experience includes a 25 year career in specialty retail with field and home office executive leadership roles.


Giving back through community involvement has always been important to Michelle. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Home for Families, a non-profit organization based in Columbus, assisting at-risk families establish housing, financial, and educational stability.


Michelle graduated from Franklin University’s Master of Business Administration program with a concentration in Executive Coaching and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resources Management from Miami University.

 

Michelle, why is Strategic Planning important?

Michelle: Strategic planning is about imagining the possibilities! It is creating space for organization leaders to think about who they are and who they aspire to be. We facilitate workshops with our clients to help them determine where they want to go and how they want to focus their resources to achieve their strategic priorities.


When the work is done well, it creates a unified direction, where everyone is moving the same way, and the Strategic Plan is a living strategy that the organization revisits and updates frequently. It is quantifiable so it builds action for the team.


OK, yes, this sounds important? But how do we do this work?

Michelle: We take our clients through a 4 step process. Before we begin, we align on a common definition of strategic planning so if we get off course, we can come back to our shared purpose.

Step 1: Articulate Mission, Vision, and Values – we invest time revisiting the purpose of the organization in a succinct way. Asking, are we clear on why we exist (Mission)? How do we define excellence and who do we aspire to be (Vision)? And, how do we treat one another and our customers (Values)?


Step 2: Identify Critical Issues – use a SWOT analysis to identify the gaps between current state and where we want to be.


Step 3: Determine Strategic Priorities – Broadly define what you will do differently to address the critical issues. Strategic priorities are inspirational, require multi-year efforts, and focus the organization’s attention and resources.


Step 4: Develop a Year-one Action Plan – how the organization will make progress on their priorities through SMART actions (S=Specific, M=Measurable, A=Achievable, R=Relevant, T=Time-bound).


That makes sense to me. What do you think is different about our Kane Learning Strategic Planning approach?

Michelle: I think it comes down to two key factors:

  1. The strategic planning process can feel overwhelming. We keep it simple. We demystify the process and break it down into manageable steps.

  2. The process is designed to be inclusive! Leaders often do this to “check the box” because their job is to create or update an existing strategic plan. But what we have learned is that there is POWER in involving others. Examples include working with committees of staff members, conducting a staff survey, gaining Board input, and working with members of the leadership team to create the plan. When we get the buy-in of others, we all feel ownership and accountability!


Michelle, this has been really insightful! I have one last question for you. Can you tell us about a client you’ve supported recently? How has that work gone, and what did they say about the process?

Michelle: Absolutely! We recently wrapped up strategic planning with our partners from the Licking County Health Department. Here's a quote from their Health Commissioner, Chad Brown.


"The Licking County Health Department worked with Kane Learning to develop our updated strategic plan. The process was amazing, and the Kane team did a great job of engaging our staff and our board members. They took the time to get to know us and each department. With the plan finalized, we are well positioned to provide our constituents with the high quality services they deserve."

- Chad Brown, Health Commissioner, Licking County Health Department


Thank you, Michelle White! If our readers would like to connect with you, what’s the best way to do that?

Michelle: They are welcome to email me at mwhite@kanelearning.com. They can also reach out on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-white77/


If you’d like to learn more about how we can support your organization in strategic planning, contact us!


 


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