A strategic plan is a change agenda and organizations in change need to address three topics: the direction, magnitude, and speed of the change. Leadership teams are instinctively good at assessing direction and their energy naturally gravitates to this key topic when building the strategic plan. They are also usually good at identifying a set of priorities or initiatives designed to move the organization in the desired change-direction. Often the process stops there, leaving the rest of the organization guessing at the desired magnitude and speed of the change initiative.
In fairness, the precise magnitude and speed of any change are both harder to gauge than the direction. How much change is too much? How fast is too fast? And how can anyone declare the right amount and pace of change at the beginning of the journey when they know the market will continue to evolve while they change? It is easier, often seems sufficient, and certainly retains option value, to declare the direction and stop there.
But without some guidance on magnitude and speed, a change agenda often bogs down in cross-functional infighting over priorities. The priorities and initiatives that go along with the direction are inevitably a longer list than the organization can accomplish all at once, and they almost definitionally require cross-functional resources and collaboration – because they are always big change drivers involving many part of the organization.
Fortunately, magnitude and speed can both be measured and monitored, and with visibility to these issues leadership teams are much better equipped to keep the change initiative moving forward smoothly. We recently helped a client with this exact problem and the exercise uncovered some significant points of misalignment. With a much stronger problem definition in hand, the team is well on their way to a solution – and a process for monitoring future issues.
If you need help keeping your strategic plan on track, reach out – we’d love to hear about it!