We’re continuing our series on getting the right start on planning for 2019.  Last month we talked about the importance of developing a comprehensive situation analysis to ensure that you and your team have the proper context for setting the plans for the coming year.

The next step in setting the table for the planning process is to share that analysis with the entire company – or even better, involve as many employees as possible in the creation of that situation analysis.

Why?  What’s often overlooked is that strategic planning can and should serve as a unifying alignment exercise for your company. The days of top management developing the plan alone in a conference room or offsite, then sharing it with the company just before the new year begins, are long gone, and for good reason.

After all,  it’s the rest of the company, not the exec team, that will largely create the results. You can’t get commitment to the plan without buy-in from everyone.  It’s not enough to explain What the company will do in the coming years.  You need to have a clear explanation for Why the chosen course is the best way forward.

Sharing the key findings from the Situation Analysis is a great way to encourage participation.  Ask for feedback: What should the company do in the face of all the competitive challenges and other issues that conspire to limit growth?  Are there opportunities for growth that haven’t been previously identified? Getting ideas from all corners of the business almost always produces perspective the executive team would otherwise miss.

Schedule an all hands meeting to share the result of the Situation Analysis.  Then organize a series of smaller group meetings to invite discussion and get ideas and feedback.

The goal is to have the entire company as involved as possible in the process.  You’re not abdicating the final decision making, but if you get people aligned around the key challenges, there will be a lot more acceptance of and buy in to the final plan.