As teachers and practitioners of strategic planning, we have long been looking for a textbook for our courses and a guidebook in our consulting work that approaches strategic planning from a more comprehensive perspective. Our search for a book that approaches strategic planning from a leadership perspective, as well as covering all three sectors of society – business, not-for-profits and public entities – inspired us to write this book.
Most strategic planning books are written for nonprofit (charitable) groups and public (governmental) organizations. We believe that the interactive process in this book can apply to all three social sectors – including businesses. In fact, we know it can work because we have used this process with many groups from all three sectors.
Our students and clients tell us that books on strategic planning are too difficult to read and understand. They tell us they are not interested in becoming experts in the field so much as practitioners of strategy for their own organizations. They want a book they can read, understand and put into practice.
After twenty years of searching for the right book, we finally answered the call of our students, clients and colleagues by writing our own.
This book emphasizes the role of leaders in the strategic planning process. Most books on strategic planning assume that leadership is positional and that strategic planning is the purview of people in positions of authority. We take a different view.
We believe strategic planning is a conversation that takes place between leaders, followers and managers about the direction that an organization needs to take. In strategic planning, members of an organization interact with each other, explore alternatives together and discover a shared vision that can take the organization in a new direction.
We define strategic planning as an interactive process where leaders, followers and managers create a common goal together. Interaction is important to both the process and content of leadership. We hope that the interactive process we describe here can provide (1) opportunities for various groups to engage more actively in strategic change efforts, and (2) a meaningful way for people to practice the art of organizational leadership.