Strategic. Planning. One of those wonderful twin-star ideas that almost everybody thinks is a great idea, but few actually do, and even fewer do very well. In a slower-paced world, a generation or two ago, a strategic planning retreat once a year was seen as plenty. Maybe even a 2-year, or 5-year, Strategic Plan. No more. If it’s not part of your firm’s semi-annual, or quarterly, assessment/re-direction process, you are very likely to be disadvantaged.
Perhaps the most important component of top-flight Strategic Planning is to ensure that someone other than the firm’s leaders facilitates the process. Many savvy larger practices appoint external directors primarily to provide this external viewpoint for such a mission-critical part of practice success.
Strategic Planning, Done Right
The beauty of strategic planning is its elegant framework for helping people to think through a worthwhile company direction, and then to purposefully make it real. – Ellen Flynn Heapes
Ellen Flynn Heapes, Founder of The Centre for Strategic Planning, prepared a chapter in Managing Quality in Architecture (2nd ed.) entitled Achieving a Strategic ‘Strategic Plan’. Her short chapter outlines the five “catalytic decisions” that a practice must make to ensure it creates (or updates) an effective strategic plan. They are, simply, The Why, The Who, The Where, The What, and The How.
You can read Ellen’s complete paper explaining these decision steps here.
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How do we develop an effective Strategic Plan?
Over the past 30 years, PSMJ has assisted scores of design firms in the development of their strategic plans.
This extensive experience has allowed us to develop a uniquely effective approach to strategic planning, which produces strategic plans that energize the firm, strategically align its principals, and really get results. PSMJ’s Strategic Planning activities consist of four phases:
- Management Assessment – This phase assesses your current situation from a variety of perspectives including managers, clients, staff and benchmarking. The deliverable from this phase is a comprehensive Management Assessment Report that will be provided prior to the retreat.
- Planning Retreat – This phase begins with a PSMJ consultant coming to your office for a series of confidential one-on-one interviews with each participant in your strategic planning retreat. The following two days are spent in the actual retreat.
- Preparation of Strategic Plan – Following the retreat, PSMJ’s consultant will prepare a draft Strategic Plan, which will consist of the following deliverables:
- The Strategic Plan
- A PowerPoint file to present the Strategic Plan to your staff
- An Excel file containing your historical performance, benchmarking results and “year-by-year” goals for the next 3 to 5 years
- Follow-up: If you desire, PSMJ’s consultant can provide a variety of follow-up activities to assure that your Strategic Plan is properly implemented. This often includes participation in regularly scheduled progress meetings, as well as one-on-one assistance to those who are responsible for the plan’s execution.