I have often had calls from clients in the past that begin “we are having a lot of communication problems in our organization. We think it is a good time to do some strategic planning.”. My common response to that is to point out that those two statements do not go together.
If you engage in strategic planning, especially if that planning is looking at working with organizational structures, and you haven’t dealt with communication, interpersonal and power issues then there is a strong likelihood of those unspoken dynamics being built into your organizational structure. Silos get created for many reasons, among them the fact that people sometimes don’t want to work with each other.
I had a meeting with a client yesterday, with whom I am working on Friday. His organization is in great shape. They have a rolling five year plan which has no targets in it, but only a series of strategic objectives. He creates targets on a yearly basis or as funding comes in. The board is in good shape and the organization is providing good service to its members. In our meeting yesterday we were able to think about setting aside a third of our planning time to have a blue sky conversation about the future of the organization, the changing environment and some new philosophical frontiers for the group. It feels easy, even though this is an organization that works in financial administration. We don’t have to consume energy fighting political battles and power dynamics, and we can instead look outwards.
People often deride the relational aspects of organization life as “soft”. They aren’t. They are the underlying architecture that makes core business lines possible and that ensures quality in every offering.