The role or job description of a strategist, the head of strategic planning, or a strategy department.
Strategic planning or strategy departments may consist of a single person, or larger teams comprising permanent employees and external consultants. Depending on the size and focus of the organization, the number of resources available, and the expectations of the strategy department's key customers, the head of strategic planning or the internal strategist may perform some or all of the strategy roles listed below.
Strategic planners provide up to date strategic research to the leadership of the company in the following areas:
The head of strategic planning may divide the strategic research listed above, amongst different members of his/her team.
A prime role of any strategy department is to educate leadership in both strategic planning and strategic thinking. Strategists use a number of approaches to educate their leadership. These include:
The strategist provides the CEO, heads of SBU's, divisions and regions with tools designed to make it easier for them to develop powerful strategic plans together with their teams.
Often organisations review their strategic plans at a three-day workshop. The head of strategic planning has the role of organising the strategy review session and ensuring that SBUs or divisions then develop strategic plans aligned to the organisation's new strategic plans.
Strategic planners often hire external facilitators who are independent of company politics to facilitate these sessions. These facilitators help:
The head of strategic planning, then uses the same workshop tools to facilitate strategy sessions at the SBU and divisional levels. This helps to promote alignment between SBU and divisional strategies and the corporate strategic plan.
The strategic planner also keeps up to date with the latest tools and techniques of doing strategic planning, and provides these tools to the leadership of the organization and its SBUs, divisions, and regions.
Like a spider weaving a web, the head of strategic planning has to ensure that the organisation's systems, structure and culture are aligned to support the organisation's strategic plan and values. This means that every system and employee pull in the same direction.
The head of strategic planning works closely together with the finance department and the OD/change management/HR departments to ensure that all planning and measurement systems use the same language and terminology. This means that staff members will input their goals and objectives once only - and these goals and objectives will be applied to their strategic planning, budgeting, performance management, and reporting systems.
The head of strategic planning also analyses all the strategic plans in the organization to ensure that no duplication occurs between different regions, divisions and departments.
The head of strategic planning checks for aspects of the strategy that are being neglected, because they fall between divisions or SBU's. These will be turned into projects that cut across different SBU's and divisions.
The head of strategic planning will also ensures that all new projects are designed and implemented in a way that supports the organisation's strategies and values.
The head of strategic planning and his team of strategic planners often works with change management specialists to ensure that both the content and the spirit of the strategic plan are being implemented. Where barriers occur, the strategic planners helps teams to remove these barriers. This may necessitate a change in structures and systems.
The head of strategic planning is often called upon to do special, one off feasibility studies and research into areas that fall outside of the mandate of the divisions or SBU's.
He and his team of strategists often assist the CEO/chairman to make confidential strategic decisions.
They act as a high level personal assistants to the chairman/CEO. Often they also act as internal consultants to the leaders of the different divisions and regions
To be effective, a strategic planner needs to have the following qualities:
Initially organisations try to select someone who has all above qualities.
The first person in this job has the additional role of setting up the function and selling the need for strategic planning to leaders of SBU's and divisions. As head of strategic planning, he/she often has to prove the worth of the strategic planning function to the organization.
Having set up the position, many companies use the strategy division or department as a training ground for developing talented staff. The strategic planning department gives strategic planners a broad overview of different parts of the organization. People with talent are moved into the strategy department for a few years. After that they are often asked to head up some of the new projects that emerged from their strategies.
Many heads of strategic planning, are often promoted into general management or CEO roles because of their depth of experience and ability to operate at a strategic level.