Strategic Planning vs Transactional Planning

Strategic Planning involves four foundational elements: 1. Mission or Core Purpose  2. Core Values  3. Core Principles  4. Vision Statement.                                                

Mission or Core Purpose   A good Mission Statement is easy to remember, is a single sentence, and touches the hearts and minds of its followers. It should answer these three questions:        a.  Why do we exist as an enterprise?    To create memories … b.   Whom do we serve?    for our Guests and Staff … and  c. What are the outcomes of whom we serve?    as the best mountain recreation experience…again and again.    WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain Resort Inc.

Core Values on the other hand are the critical few behaviours ( I suggest 5- 6 maximum) that we believe the members of our organization need to demonstrate on a daily basis with both their colleagues and our Customers. These behaviours must be the ones that the leadership have identified in the Strategic Planning process as being paramount to the successful delivery of their Mission or raison d’être.    

Core Principles are rarely identified in the Strategic Planning process and to omit them is in my experience a grave error. Why? Because Core Principles drive the results you want your organization to deliver on and should be aligned with your Core Values. For example, the Core Value of Respect - We listen actively without interruption to your concerns and perspective.  Core Principle of Good Communication - We are able to demonstrate we understand the feelings and content of your message without judgment, and necessarily agreeing with you.       

Vision Statements paint a vivid picture of where the leadership hopes to take the organization in the future and why. It must be aligned with the organization’s Mission Statement and its Core Values and Core Principles. Vision Statements should have embedded within them some key Strategic Goals which are no more than statements of where you’re-the leadership-taking the organization in a given time period. A good Vision Statement should energize your constituents and fill them with such passion that they can almost touch, taste, and see the journey’s end. Imagination is a powerful tool in the arsenal of a good leader. Infact, I would hazard to say it’s an essential characteristic of a good leader.

Strategic Planning in process rolls out in the aforementioned order. It requires a climate where people are comfortable to speak their minds without fear of reprisal or shame. A climate where there are no stupid questions nor shooting down of ideas before they can be thoroughly understood and digested by all the members of the Strategic Planning team. A climate where people actively listen to each other and keep an open mind. A climate where talking over each other is not allowed and the microphone is passed to every member of the team to express their views and ideas. 

Transactional Planning is a very different process. Transactional or Operational or Tactical Planning-all the same thing-is focused on the day-to-day work that needs to be done in order to help the organization achieve its Strategic Goals. It requires employees to be present in the “here and now” and concentrating on what needs to be done today to get to tomorrow. My experience with some organizations is they confuse these two types of organizational planning processes. More than once I have gone into meet with the leadership of an organization prior to facilitating the Strategic Planning process only to understand that they were thinking transactionally and not strategically. A leaders fundamental job is to lead strategy and not the operations of an enterprise. Operations is left up to the management within an organization and if there are problems within the delivery of Strategic Goals one need only look to its Operations group for answers. Meaning a problem may reside in the Operations group or it is in the connection between the two groups-Strategic and Operations. For example, an Operations group may be asked to deliver on a Strategic Goal but lacks the resources to carry out the goal. Then on the other hand an Operations group may lack the alignment with the company’s Strategic Goals in its structure or personnel. Whatever the reason for troubles existing between the two groups, it’s imperative that the Operations group through their Transactional Planning address any issues with delivering on the Strategic Plan before their Transactional Plan is signed off by a senior leader.

In closing, both Strategic and Transactional Planning are very important to the life blood of an organization. They are different in purpose and different in process while remaining mutually dependent on each other. I’ll follow up to this introduction of Strategic and Transactional Planning in the next series of blogs. 

Quote “Hope is not a strategy.”  Vince Lombardi

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