I think it’s crazy that so many companies’ default is to outsource their strategic planning to ‘external consultants’. It’s something I am increasingly baffled about, that this is their first option. We recruit ‘expert’ employees in their disciplines, industry leaders and smart people who we believe will help our business grow. Then we call in the ‘big guns’ to work on our strategic plans for the future. To gather information and then present back to us what are plans for the future are. And sometimes, not always, we are wasting our time, talent and treasure**. Yep I said it. Stone me. But let me explain before you put a target on my back.
**Talent = They include the people and key stakeholders (customers, suppliers and experts) that want to be involved.
After all, that’s why we hired them.
Time = It often takes less time of your people and the planning.
Treasure = They cost less financially to facilitate than the big elaborate programs.
We are in an age where outsourcing is a good thing for many reasons;
- We outsource some of our services overseas, like finance and accounting, customer service or IT because it’s cheaper.
- We outsource recruitment because it’s not our core business.
- We outsource training because we are not experts in leadership but want our leaders to be brilliant.
We make clever outsourcing decisions and have grounded reasons around why we do this.
But when it comes to deciding the direction of our business, why do we go to others to decide?
- We don’t realise how much expertise we have in house. We can underestimate the brilliance that we have hired.
- We are unsure about how we harness the thinking. We know we’ve got smart people but don’t know how to facilitate it.
- We are worried that the loudest voice wins. We’ve got people who love the sound of their own voice waaaaaay too much.
Yes there are times when an external consultant will sit across an industry or product line and have a line of sight that extends beyond one business. And yes they should be a part of the planning, but not responsible for the core ideas.
Owen Harrison, author and founder of Open Space Technology, which is a process for gathering the right people to solve core issues has shown us that complex and lengthy strategic planning is not the only way. Harrison has proved that ‘you could do incredible things without a planning committee, facilitators and a conference management team’ and the strategic outcomes are disruptive and highly profitable.
If we want to our people to own the future direction of the business. Involve them.
If we want to come up with the best plans for OUR business. Involve them.
There are some super clever ways to do this, that don’t require months and months of planning. They require less time and less money than you think.
If you want to know how to run clever, high impact and super engaging ways to work on your strategy OR your problems. You’ll love our DECISIONATE program.