Strategic Planning: Getting on the Same Page

How many times have you heard the saying, “We all need to get on the same page” or “We need to be working from the same sheet of music”? Whether you are a business leader, musician, part of a team, or family member – when you hear that statement, it’s pretty clear; someone is NOT on the same page!

Strategic planning is all about getting on the same page.   It is about creating shared meaning for coordinated action. However, it’s difficult for organizations to find shared anything when communicating complex ideas, goals, strategies, initiatives, and financials. This complexity often comes in the form of a thick document (called the strategic plan) and it makes a loud thud when placed on a desk or table.

This “credenza-ware” requires that you read, interpret and make sense of the plan. Most people try to figure out: what does this plan mean to me and to my job? And, how in my role, can I help the organization achieve it goals (or at least what I think they meant in the strategic plan)?  When you haven’t been part of creating the strategy, it is easy to misinterpret or not share the same enthusiasm and commitment of the few who did create the plan. You might consider yourself a can-do supporter, but you are most likely not on the same page.

Strategic Intent:

Strategy, in many ways has grown out of military planning – which has reinforced the notion of competition and winners/losers in business.  And while I’m not a big fan of win-lose metaphors, the notion of commander’s intent resonates.

When companies craft their vision, it can quickly denigrate into wordsmithing hell. A great vision captures the essence of the future direction in a short statement that conveys the organization’s strategic intent. Further, it invites others to join – while not dictating “HOW” to achieve this intent.

Strategy on a Page:

One of our most valued tools is the “strategy-on-a-page,” a one-page summary that visually displays the organization’s strategy – including the vision, strategy/goal areas, key initiatives (by goal), and top priorities.  The most important aspects of the business are conveyed simply and succinctly, on a page.


Wireless Company Strategy on a Page


Pharma Company Strategy on a Page


Museum Strategy on a Page

So if you want a “living” strategy – less is more. Focus on strategic intent and getting everyone on the same page – literally!





Here are some other strategy readings you might enjoy:

Strategic Planning:  It’s about creating a movement, not just a plan.

Reframing the Role of the Board in Strategic Planning.

SOARing from SWOT, 4 tips for strategic planning done right!

Check out our upcoming Strategy workshop in London: June 16 – 20

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