Role of the CEO in Strategic Planning
Perhaps the first decision an entrepreneur or CEO should make in strategic planning is what his or her role will be. In some cases, the CEO’s purpose is to confirm or validate working assumptions about the business, or gain buy-in from their team. Most often, strategic planning is a collaborative endeavor that requires input from multiple stakeholders. The CEO should generally act as captain of the process, setting a tone for the efforts to come.
The CEO must recognize that the very people responsible for expanding the core business may be incapable of disrupting it. In most cases, the CEO needs to be the driver of innovation and strategic thinking. He or she must make sure the company’s expansion plans and initiatives align with the mission, vision and positioning. Along the way, the CEO monitors industry structure to ensure the company’s offer remains relevant. It is not the management team’s job to preserve the status quo, but to move the company forward. Best-in-class companies are run by forward-thinking management teams. For management to function at full throttle, the CEO must exercise his or her role as coach by delegating appropriately. Some CEOs want to be visionaries or inventors, while others feel inclined to maintain operational control. It is critical that the CEO choose a path and clarify roles, beginning with their own.
If the CEO will take on the role of operator, he or she must identify others (internal or external to the organization) who can lead R&D. This also includes exploration and innovation, if in fact the company wishes to innovate. Among the many benefits of strategic planning is its usefulness in clarifying who should do what. It is often through this process that management identifies skills gaps within their team, such as the need for operational leaders (COO), IT leaders (CTO/CIO), etc. Leverage strategic planning as an opportunity to assess your team and obtain the necessary talent to reach the next level.