Thinking Outside the Department in Your Strategic Planning

Picture depicts a strategic planning flow between departments

Strategic planning is the backbone of any business modernization, a guide that communicates where a company is and where they want to be. Though this is an important endeavor for every organization, almost 67% of strategic plans fail. One factor contributing to the overall success of a strategic plan is the ecosystem within the organization, namely, how actions within sectors and departments work together as an enterprise.

When leaders develop plans separately from the rest of the organization, the perception of success may not match reality. A study by McKinsey found leaders were 2.5 times more likely than employees to call the strategy implementation successful. How can leaders develop a strategic plan that moves an organization forward? By thinking outside the department.

Employee Tunnel Vision vs. The Big Picture

The Challenge: Employees don't see their "fit" in the company.

The Solution: It's easy to tunnel into our day-to-day operations and not see tasks contributing to the larger company vision. Communicating that vision is essential for employees to see how their role brings value to the company. Whether it's contributing to a revenue stream, meeting customer needs, or developing new opportunities, each employee and department should be aligned with the strategic plan. This should be clearly outlined and demonstrated between leadership and employees for a comprehensive understanding of the fit and function of your human capital. Since employees are on the ground level within your company, they are an excellent source of feedback on how to make their positions even more efficient and productive. By allowing employees a voice in the strategic planning process, small tweaks can mean huge gains for your company.

Silos and Satellites vs. Interconnected Departments

The Challenge: Employees don't understand how other department functions impact theirs.

The Solution: Enterprise-wide communication is the main driver of success for any strategic plan initiative. Communication doesn't begin and end with a single meeting or a memo. It must be continuous to reinforce change and monitor progress with milestones. In fact, company transformations are 12.4 times more likely to be successful when leaders communicate the vision, goals, and metrics of their plan.

Demonstrating how the entire company works together in your strategy can help employees visualize how information flows, how processes work together, and how they will manage knowledge. Use a flow chart or process map as a demonstration tool so employees can see how their department or area connects with others. These maps are also helpful in removing waste, bottlenecks, or other disruptions that slow productivity or create extra work. By seeing the company as a whole, you can foster a culture of connectedness and understanding of the inner workings of your organization.

Perception vs. Reception

The Challenge: Strategic plans contain the company's vision from the executive level but don't necessarily translate to the whole enterprise.

The Solution: Putting together a new strategic plan is both exciting and challenging. As management considers both operational factors and growth opportunities, you must also consider perspectives across the enterprise. A strategy that includes the point-of-view of its employees has a better chance of being adopted across the company. Have conversations with representatives from all parts of the organization from the bottom up when strategic planning to ensure a holistic view of the company. When launching the plan, model the changes you want to see and find other influential leaders throughout the organization who will be cheerleaders for your new initiatives.

The Bottom Line


Having a 360-degree view of your organization is critical when strategic planning, and that means getting out of the office, talking with employees, and understanding how to transform the company from within using interdepartmental relationships.

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