A New Niche: Introducing the GPS System
As the Duncum Center expands its services through the Positive Solution Institute, we’re discovering a niche in providing strategic planning and vision casting services. Organizations are eager for clear direction and participant “buy-in.” As mediators, we gather information, build consensus and help clients create plans for the future. Those skills are also vital as facilitators and consultants in strategic planning and vision casting. With a background in law, business and conflict resolution, Dr. Joey Cope, Executive Director of the Duncum Center has created the following model for organizational planning. If your organization wants to take planning to the next level, we would like to help. Please contact us for more information.
The GPS System for Organizational Planning
By Joe L. "Joey" Cope, J.D.
Executive Director & Associate Professor
Most leaders of organizations appreciate the value of planning. Everyone wants to have a plan. A plan is a roadmap. It brings clarity to our everyday work. Plans help explain our needs to donors, investors, board members, and clients. Plans are essential.
Then why are effective plans – in particular, strategic plans – so difficult to achieve?
The answer to that lies in the definition of an “effective plan.” The natural tendency is to enter a planning process with the expectation that, at some point in the future, the plan will be finished. This type of thinking has resulted in the general dissatisfaction found in most organizations in regard to plans. The plan became defined by a final document or report that was almost always placed on a shelf somewhere and ignored.
The secret to achieving an “effective plan” is adopting the concept of strategic planning as an ongoing process that takes into account changes in the environment. It allows you to take advantage of opportunities while avoiding the disasters that can pop-up from nowhere.
Yet, even as people began to realize that a strategic plan needed to be a living, breathing, growing organism, organizational leaders began to shrink back. Effective strategic planning demands resources. The question was asked, “At what point can we stop planning and just do what we’re supposed to be doing?”
In effect, what was needed was a strategic planning process that: (1) begins with a concentrated focus on today and an ambitious (yet realistic) look at tomorrow; (2) employs simple techniques that chart the course from today to tomorrow; and (3) engages an operating system that allows for constant changes and slight course revisions. And that entire process needs to be achievable. In other words, the strategic planning process must be implemented in a manner that allows both the “planning” and the “doing” to occur simultaneously. Thus, the emergence of the “GPS System.”
GATEWAY: the concentrated focus on today and ambitious look at tomorrow
PATHWAY: simple techniques for planning our way from today to tomorrow
SPEEDWAY: implementing the plan without losing our flexibility and creativity
The GPS System requires the collaboration of a wide variety of individuals within the organization. It relies on a multiplicity of talents as well as the diversity of perspectives present in any robust organization.
The most common breakdown in strategic planning for organizations is the failure to spend time in the Gateway. Many businesses and non-profits launch into planning without investing in fairly basic assessment exercises. Further, many organizations fail to explore the imaginations of a broad spectrum of their work forces by isolating vision activities in a very small group of upper managers. As a result, great opportunities are often overlooked and, even more commonly, “dreams” are set as “goals” without even the slightest consideration of the demands that will be placed on the organization.
Generally speaking, organizations have had more success with the Pathway. Tactical planning has always been popular. Leadership sets up measurement standards toward particular goals and selectively applies resources to accomplish results. In truth, tactical planning is a very important part of overall strategic planning. However, the Pathway can often be disrupted when the leaders fail to keep an eye to their overall vision for the organization. When that happens, the organization is traveling a road with what was once a good map. Yet it fails to take into consideration the bumps in the pavement, the detours, and tragically, even the dead ends. The Pathway plays an important role in strategic planning as it guides and fuels the day-to-day operation of the enterprise.
The piece that brings all elements of assessment, vision and planning together and makes them strategic is the Speedway. Just as a modern freeway enhances travel, the Speedway allows the organization to operate at its maximum safe speed with freedom from frequent stops and changes in direction. In order to engage the Speedway, organizational leaders invest in monitoring systems or “dashboard indicators” that allow frequent looks at how the organization is doing. The Speedway also prompts the organization to continually scan the horizon and check “blind spots.” And, finally, the Speedway develops a broad group of leaders well-versed in both strategic reaction and course revision without slowing the momentum of the organization.
Gateway . . . Pathway . . . Speedway – your GPS system for Organizational Planning.