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Utilize Issue-Based Planning to Dig Deeper and Solve Business Problems

lannonMar11There is a lot going on in your organization, all sorts of things that you need to wrap your head around. The challenge is that you first need to truly understand the issues and determine how to address them.
This is where Issue-Based or Goal-Based strategic planning is used.

Issue-Based planning is probably the most common planning process for tactical managers to use. It starts with a review of the organization’s mission, vision, values and guiding principles; this ensures that management is practicing aligned thinking and has the right mindset to dig deeper and solve business problems.

Issue-Based Planning can be divided into ten key steps:

  1. Have the team perform a SWOT Analysis for the business area they are focused on. A SWOT is a strategic tool that can be used at an organization, department, team or individual level to understand external and internal factors that impact the business. It requires candid assessments of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Often teams fail at this as they lack objectivity when looking at their own organization. Consider independent help from an expert.
  2. Strategic analysis to identify and prioritize major issues and goals. This includes grouping the issues and setting key goals around them. At this point you need to avoid the knee jerk reaction of trying to hide, defend or solve the problems. It’s all about getting organized.
  3. Design major strategies or programs to address issues and goals. This is where you can start to work towards more detailed approaches to solve the key challenges that you are facing.
  4. Design and update vision, mission and values (if needed). Often this is something that you may not need to do. It just depends on the extremes of the situation. If the mission and vision are out of line with the issues or goals then there is some redefining to consider. The better thing to do is get the tactical management team to align with the mission and vision of the organization.
  5. Establish action plans, objectives, resource needs, roles and responsibilities for implementation of the plan. Do not miss this opportunity. A number of organizations miss this opportunity because they do not have an individual or team that they can assign responsibility and accountability to in order to ensure things get done.
  6. Record issues / goals and update any strategy materials including your visual action plans from your higher-level planning sessions.
  7. Consider developing a yearly Operating Plan document from year one to a multi-year plan that can be reviewed at an annual senior planning session. Issues must be addressed in this session to see how things have progressed.
  8. Have your teams develop budget for capital, project and operational expenses related to the business solutions to solve the business issues. Build in key performance indictors and an accountability model that the management team accepts and will work towards.
  9. Conduct the organization’s year-one strategic, tactical and operation review to determine your success at dealing with the issues that were defined.
  10. Monitor, review, evaluate and update any strategic and tactical planning documents including strategic road maps and visual planning aids. Do not allow your plans to sit on a shelf. Make them active documents that must be brought to all high-level meetings.

Issue-Based Planning is all about driving out the issues of the organization. It is important that the team can think in terms of real issues and have a level of confidence that their voice will be heard. This is where training in issue-based planning is important for the management team as they will be required to dig deeper into the issues and develop comprehensive solutions to business problems. It is a challenge to look at business issues, but with a little focus and a well-developed approach management can create their own success.

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