What is the optimal approach and team size for a strategic planning effort?

By Randall Rollinson

There is no one answer to this question.  The level and scope of the initial program should reflect the best use of management capabilities, and equally important, leadership preferences on how to initiate strategic management activities—regardless of the ultimate level and scope of the strategic management process aspired to and eventually realized. Organizations, even those performing the same functions and the same size, vary greatly with respect to organization structures, management authority and responsibilities, degree of specialization, style of managing and so forth.

Therefore, it is only feasible to offer some general guidelines and suggestions to organize and manage in a manner that fits the organization and provides a comfort level and familiar patterns to those involved in the program.

It is difficult enough to deal with new tools and concepts without also having to adopt new management styles and systems.  Based on this organization and management approach, it is important to assign responsibility for various aspects of the strategic management program. Obviously, many members of the leadership team will be involved in all parts of the program; however, as it progresses, new roles and responsibilities will be identified and need to be assigned at that time. In all cases make sure to compile a comprehensive set of benefits expected from the process, and a list of anticipated concerns to be addressed before the process begins.  In most cases we work with core planning teams of 7 to 12 with extended planning team members of 25-100… again it depends. Regardless of the team size, the team must agree upon and communicate a reasonable work plan and timeline.  Throughout the development of the strategic management program it is vital to maintain top leadership involvement and participation in all phases of the program. This cannot be emphasized too strongly.

Determining strategic direction, planning and implementing strategy requires deployment throughout all functions and at all levels of the organization remains the primary responsibility of top management.

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