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The Development Exponent: A Leadership Perspective

Bruce Holoubek

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Why Your Strategic Planning Framework Should Foster Mutually Meaningful Work Engagements with Michelle Neujahr

There are many strategic planning frameworks out there, but how many of them have as a key component, an emphasis on building mutually meaningful work engagements? From my point of view, this is an oft missing but vital piece of the planning that organizations of any size should be doing. What does it matter if the strategic planning framework you choose is the latest and greatest but your team members don’t feel it provides a way for them to be actively and enthusiastically involved in its implementation? My guest on this episode is a business consultant who has found her sweet spot in helping businesses work out strategic plans that not only help the company refine its vision for what it delivers and for whom, but also to communicate and implement the plan in a way that energizes team members. Michelle Neujahr is the founder of Nu-Yar, a no-nonsense business consulting company that works with committed business owners and executive teams. The experience she draws upon in helping leaders comes from being a real-world business owner herself. The heart of any good strategic planning process is not in the organization of the “planning event” itself or even in the slogans or campaigns devised from the discussion. The heart of real and powerful strategic planning is the people who will implement that plan. Getting them engaged and vested in the plan is the missing piece for most companies. Symptoms that your organization may need to develop a strategic plan? Michelle points out that the symptoms that indicate the need for effective strategic planning can be varied. Not only that but every organization — due to its unique history and culture — will manifest the need for a comprehensive strategic plan in equally unique ways. Some of the most common indicators that strategic planning is needed are things such as revenue plateaus, internal systems that are outdated or that no longer work, or a lack of clarity about where the organization is going and why. I believe that even though plateaus and broken systems are perhaps the leading indicators of the need for strategic planning, there is another fairly common occurrence that is symptomatic of a more vital problem — poor morale among the organization’s team. Work engagements that make a difference are not only those that turn a profit for the organization or enable it to reach its corporate goals. The thing that matters even more is the health and happiness of all the “cogs” in the inner workings of the organizational machinery. If they are not well lubricated, then those cogs (team members) who are unhappy or unfulfilled will eventually break, which will cripple the entire organizational machine. Strategic planning is about more than an annual revision of goals While organizations definitely need to revisit goals they have previously set to assess whether the goals were accomplished and/or whether they should have been set in the first place, that is not the focus of strategic planning. Strategic planning is aimed at a bigger target. Its objective is to set the course for the organization and to disseminate that direction throughout the organization’s team members in actionable ways. Sadly, it’s that last part that is missed in strategic planning much of the time. Vision and direction are great, but only if those who are expected to make it happen understand it and are on board with making it happen. Leadership development as part of the strategic planning framework Smaller organizations often discover that in the rush and hurry that often accompanies rapid growth they have simply been scrambling to keep their heads above water. This means they’ve hired friends or relatives, have patched up systems and processes on the fly at times, and in other words have done whatever was necessary to keep the business running. But as they grow, they begin to realize

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