When an organisation goes through a strategic planning exercise, it should be clear what exactly the outcome should be. Defining markets? Identifying winning products? Out-smarting competitors? Clarifying vision and mission?
The above would be the normal stuff that would be covered during strategic planning sessions, normally held in nice resorts to provide the ambiance to stimulate thoughts and ideas. At the end of the planning sessions, a long list of strategies and action plans would have been agreed upon and ready for execution.
What happens the day after the strategic planning sessions?
Quite a number of organisations have problems in executing strategy. Why? I believe the key issue is the buying in of the people in the organisation. Are all of them on board? Are their life priorities aligned with the strategic direction?
On obvious outcome from a strategic planning session is that CHANGE will need to happen. Otherwise, why strategise in the first place if nothing will change? And change requires people to do things differently or doing different things. This will only happen is the hearts and minds are changed. People won't change when the bosses say so, but their hearts would be driving them to change in the ways which support the achievement of the organisational goals.
The change in the hearts is more important since the change is supposed to be sustainable, not only for a few months or weeks. The people may change if they are threatened but the question is how long would it last?
This is the reason that the people must "buy" the ideas that are conceptualised during strategic planning. This requires allowing serious participation and welcoming views "from the ground" with utmost sincerity. One the thoughts and ideas behind the decisions are understood and agreed upon by most people, the chances for sustainable change to happen would be higher.
So, aligning business strategy with the interest of the people in the organisations or enterprises is very important for a very simple reason. Strategy needs to be executed by people who are committed to the cause. Without that, the feel good atmosphere would not last that long!