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Managing Change – Part 3 (Strategic and Tactical Planning)

The Relationship Model

In today’s fast-moving world the concepts of management and “change management” are synonymous terms. Adapting to an ever-changing environment in which we attempt to achieve our mission is the predominant concern of all successful organizations.

In order to manage change effectively managers must be able to manage the six core processes that allow an organization to manage change. This series of articles seeks to introduce the six core processes that allow us to manage change and then to discuss each one in more detail.

Understanding the behavioural values that will make each of these processes successful and fulfilling is as important as understanding the processes themselves. The three primary value systems that we observe in management are authoritarian, collaborative and laissez-faire. These form a continuum of values, where authority is excessive, in balance or inadequate. Where managers will anchor themselves on this continuum of values will determine their success. The articles will demonstrate the effect of each value system on the outcome of each process.

Planning is the second core process of an organization. Planning comes in two types – strategic and tactical.

The Board of Directors is the governing body of an organization. The basic strategic question that it must ask continually in an ever-changing environment is, “What services shall we offer to which people in which places and in what order of priority?” The answer to that becomes the strategic plan of the organization.

The board cannot answer this question without being in touch with key stakeholders on a regular basis. In our view a board should spend a minimum of 50% of its time listening to and learning from a parade of stakeholders coming into the boardroom. That parade should include clients and customers, donors and funding sources, representatives of the regulatory bodies – government, church leaders, specialists in the fields in which the organization works, partners and “competitors”.

The one who can properly introduce all these stakeholders is the one who likely knows them best – the CEO. The CEO should involve other senior members of the management team to suggest names of people who can help the board stay in touch with the environment as it changes. And, of course, senior managers are themselves important stakeholders.

Strategic planning should be simple, straightforward and brief. That will enable the board to give clear strategic direction to the CEO without becoming entangled in the complexities of tactical planning. In the Relationship ModelTM, a strategic plan of a multimillion-dollar, multinational organization or a small private school will be the same length – about ten pages. Very briefly they include the strategic context, values, beneficiaries, services, vision, mission, priorities, strategic goals and critical success factors.

The strategic plan will be kept current by the board’s interaction with stakeholders and the vital annual review and revision of the strategic plan.

Tactical planning is the work of the CEO and his or her team. This is a much more detailed document, one that forms the basis of all expectations of responsibilities of the management team as a group and of the individuals in it. The process of tactical planning, like strategic planning, must be based on the values of affirmation, involvement and servant leadership of those doing the planning.

Tactical plans have as many authors as there are individuals who set tactical goals for the year. Once those plans have been drafted, the team meets for a one or two-day retreat to share and discuss their plans and priorities. The financial plan – sometimes called the budget – flows from the tactical plans. It’s important not to let finances drive the plans and priorities, but rather to let the strategic plan drive the tactical plans within the limits of the resources available.

The basic question of the tactical planning process is, “How shall we achieve our mission within the limits of our resources?” You will find more information in the archives on this website. The main components of a tactical plan include a statement of the goal that is S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to the mission and time-limited). That is followed by a list of the resources required, the measurement of success that will be applied and a risk analysis, using the well-worn S.W.O.T. analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).

The critical success factors are the bridge between the strategic and the tactical. In other words, if the tactical plans address the critical success factors adequately, then the strategic goals of the mission can be realized.

Both strategic and tactical planning must be flexible enough to change during the year when the environment, the needs, the resources or other variables change.

Les Stahlke, President/CEO
GovernanceMatters.com Inc.