By Dean Whittaker

Recently I was asked to facilitate a strategic planning process. However, the client was looking for a non-traditional approach. I recommended they consider a “strategic doing” approach, having, myself, participated in a local process facilitated by Ed Morrison and his crew from the Purdue Center for Regional Development.

Many of us have gone through the traditional five-year strategic planning process with its SWOT analysis, goals, and objectives along with a strategic priority list. The complexities of the challenges we face, along with the rapid pace of change in our dynamic culture, preclude this approach. What is needed is an agile strategy that adapts to the changes taking place. This allows each person’s network to be linked and leveraged, expanding the capabilities of those assisting with the process.

There are several benefits to a strategic doing approach.

• It is action-oriented with a high level of peer accountability.
• It fosters strong engagement and an on-going investment in the initiative outcomes.
• It requires frequent reporting and recalibrating to reach the desired outcomes.

The net effect is a group of people committed to seeing the initiatives come to fruition.

The group process begins by asking four basic questions:

1. What could we do together based on the resources each member is willing to contribute?
2. Based on what we could do, what should we do together?
3. What will we do together?
4. Finally, when do we meet again?

This rapid-fire process completed in a few hours by a group of leaders can quickly result in a collaborative framework for the accomplishment of strategic initiatives.

This process is 80% doing and 20% planning. It is results-driven and action- oriented. But most importantly, it creates a shift in the conversation from one of scarce resources and overwhelming complex challenges to one of cooperation, collaboration, a pooling of resources, and the power of collective networks to find and execute solutions.

To learn more about this innovative approach to solving the complex problems we are facing, check out the Strategic Doing video on the Purdue Center for Regional Development’s website.