A clear vision and effective and efficient communication are the two key variables to achieve dynamic strategic planning process. Effective communication, in particular, allows quick and reliable compilation of data and a clear vision allows better analysis of the data.
In Corporita Inc., we have facilitated hundreds of strategic planning meetings, sessions and strategy mapping exercises. From experience, we found that the more we incorporate visuals and visual tools in the communication, the more we get accurate inputs and precise feedback.
Studies have shown that 83% of the human learning occurs visually. Our eyes process and interpret the content of photographs 60,000 times faster than text, and we can remember the content of 2500 pictures with over 90 percent accuracy 72 hours after looking at them for only 10 seconds.
This means that most of the information attained by humans is converted into a visual representation and then saved. Once we understood the importance of the visual planning process, we were able to incorporate visual data in a way that allows reaching and forming a consensus quicker than using text or oral discussion only. We were able to mobilize different groups and guide them to work faster and make the right decisions, more quickly.
IT IS A PROCESS
Strategic planning refers to long-term planning. How does this work? A goal is set, and a mission is crafted. Based on accumulation and analysis of a large scale data provided by different stakeholders, the best plan of action is put forward. Once the strategy has been made, careful implementation and periodic evaluation of the tasks and assessment of the outcomes allow the organization to reach the goal. This procedure can also be explained easily through a diagram, a mind map or a cascaded visual representation of tasks and resources; and that is what visual planning is all about.
Mind maps are a great example of strategic planning that allow a broader picture of the problem at hand and helps in finding the right solution to the problem. Similarly, a Gantt chart makes defining tasks and assigning deadlines easier. It also shows the usefulness of a particular function in comparison to the time required.
OBJECTIVES FORTITUDE MAP
Every successful organization has a defined set of goals and mission and vision. What tends to happen, however, is that these goals are not clearly communicated to the team. This is important so that everyone is aware of the common high-level goal they are working towards and can understand how each task – no matter how small – is helpful to the overall goal. The ‘Objectives Fortitude Map’ developed by Corporita’s team is a tool developed in-house to visually describe the long-term and short-term goals of a company and assess the intertwined relationships between long-term and short-term goals. It is not only an effective approach to communicating company’s vision, mission and objectives, but it is also used to create team cohesion and a unified agenda that in turn increases the team’s resilience.
AN INSIDE JOB
Once a long-term objective has been set, it is important to jot down the factors that could hinder reaching that objective. These could be external factors such as the political, environmental or social situation. A traditional PEST analysis is performed and visualized using graphs to identify and strategize for such risks. Similarly, external factors could also mean variances from the competition, for this a Five Forces analysis allows in-depth research into how rivals could affect an organization’s growth.
It is also crucial for a company to know where it stands when accessing a strategy. This could range from the articulating the corporate culture the company needs to promote and the marketing strategy and the resources at its disposal. There are a few visual tools that we use, and that can help with such analysis; The Modified Organizational Chart that our team develop allows a visual representation of the internal relationships, dependencies and communication. A Marketing Mind Map helps pinpoint the various locations and distribution channels. Later, a Brand Intrinsic Features Framework explains how the business brand is viewed in different target markets. We cannot forget about a fundamental analysis we perform, SWOT analysis, and how we always use a SWOT Matrix.
FORMULATING AND IMPLEMENTING THE STRATEGY
When all the factors and information are at hand, the team comes together and assesses all of these before formulating the strategy. To do so, a few visual dashboards can help. For example, the value chain offers a clear understanding of the plan as a value chain analysis or a strategic map can assist with providing multiple perspectives.
Lastly, we come to implementing the strategy defined, which requires a clear understanding and checkpoints in order to be successful.