Strategic planning and coaching services may be a fundamental part of your advisory offering, but have you updated your approach lately? If not, you take a risk of losing relevance to clients.

Emerging strategic planning and coaching delivery techniques were discussed in depth at the latest round of global Mindshop workshops.

Leading AMSF+ (Accredited Mindshop Facilitator Plus) Michael Burke (AUS, US, NZ) & Paul Hopwood (UK) along with Managing Director, James Mason lead the discussion covering a melting pot of ideas:

  1. Evolving strategic planning services
  2. Five areas of strategic planning change
  3. Taking a new approach to coaching clients
  4. Efficiency through emerging technologies
  5. Key things that advisors need to do differently in 2020

Evolving strategic planning services

A clear, practical path forward is essential for business success and that’s why strategic planning services continue to be the best door opener for opportunities like problem solving and implementation and the reason existing clients keep coming back.

It’s no wonder some plans are out of date before they’re even finished with mountains of documentation produced after weeks (or even months) of deliberation. Monster, ‘set and forget’ plans are not going to match the fluid nature of today’s business environment. Strategies should be adapted and evolved, becoming a living and breathing organisational touch stone, a guide rather than a control mechanism.

What’s wrong with the traditional strategic planning approach?

  • Lack of time means clients rush or don’t do strategic planning at all
  • The plan becomes too complex or unwieldy, failing to address the day-to-day needs of the business
  • There’s no creativity or innovation in the organisation’s vision resulting in ‘ground hog’ years
  • The organisation is not change ready, so there’s a low probability of success regardless of how amazing the plan

So what’s the answer? A recent Harvard Business Review article[i] summarised changes in strategic planning:

  1. The process of strategic planning is becoming more important than the plan itself, think of a plan as a work-in-progress guidance tool.
  2. Disagreements highlighted during process of achieving a signed off plan ensure all are on the same page at the end of the process, and
  3. Even if the plan becomes immediately out-of-date once written, the mere fact of having a place to start becomes a platform for change.

Today Mindshop has helped thousands of businesses with a nimbler approach, simplifying the complexity of strategic planning using One Page Plans for rigor and accountability.

‘Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.’ Winston Churchill

Five key areas strategic planning change

  1. Inject innovation
    Core Mindshop tools (Now-Where-How, Magic Wand…) are now still as relevant as ever and should be used as a foundation to the strategic planning process. But managers know that to make giant leaps forward, an injection of innovation and creativity into strategy and vision is needed – what conventional wisdom can be overturned? How can disparate services be combined? How can limitations be turned into opportunities? And how have other industries already solved your most pressing problems?
  2. Use tech differently
    Why not use tech tools to efficiently garner information before and during the planning sessions? Real time surveys, virtual meetings and the use of Mindshop’s diagnostic tools (Change Success, Growth and Profit…) were just some of the ideas that emerged from the workshops.
  3. Incubate ideas
    Think differently about timeframes and implementation – nurture ideas over a week or adopt 3- or 8-week cycles to avoid meeting fatigue and keep energy levels up.
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel
    There’s a load of templates and Mindshop resources to help you develop your strategic planning sessions. So don’t waste time creating slides, handouts and marketing materials from scratch, customise what’s already been created to save yourself time.
  5. Make the outcome clear
    When selling strategic planning to clients, it’s essential to present clearly what they should expect, make this a uniform message across all your marketing materials and sales conversations.

Taking a new approach to coaching clients

In the past, coaching was delivered during ad hoc meetings or covered in strategic planning days, but the last 20 years has seen a rise of coaching via online platforms with structured frequencies and delivery mechanisms.

What’s wrong with traditional coaching?

  • It’s too scripted and rigid in today’s fluid environment
  • Delivering just face-to-face advice is time consuming and costly
  • Taking an ad hoc approach doesn’t link coaching activities directly back to the clients’ overall goals
  • Clients don’t set time aside to get support, so will struggle on regardless

What’s changing and why?

  • Advisors need to set ground rules before engaging coaching clients – how technology will be used, what outcomes should be expected, and the cadence of coaching. It may seem basic but booking meetings into calendars well in advance ensures everyone’s expectations are aligned. Be flexible in your approach.
  • Advisors should outline typical hurdles and reiterate that problems are ok if the expected outcomes are achieved. When selling to clients ask, ‘what would success look like to you?’
  • Bundle strategic planning and coaching with online delivery as part of how you do business. Clients get the added value of access to online learning resources to self-help between coaching sessions and you get the leverage to coach multiple clients without leaving your desk.

Finally, here are five things you need to do differently in 2020 for advisory success. All these ideas come from the presenters and attendees (this is the power of smart networks like Mindshop by the way). Their top tips are:

  1. Spread strategic planning over time
  2. Improve client referrals for strategic planning work
  3. Use the alerts on Mindshop Online to check on clients’ progress when coaching
  4. Use video conferencing to avoid travel time
  5. Be tougher on people you’re coaching, after all, people are paying for accountability

In summary, evolving your approach to strategic planning and coaching not only will make you more relevant to your clients, but will also bring efficiency to the way you do business.

If you have any questions about the content of this latest advisor workshop or would like to learn more about Mindshop support contact your local regional manager.

 

Best of luck.

[i] https://hbr.org/2016/06/strategic-plans-are-less-important-than-strategic-planning