What Is Strategic Planning?
Attempting to grow or optimize your business without a detailed plan is sort of like trying to navigate uncharted territory without a map. Now that a new year is underway, it’s a perfect time to take stock of your current operations and develop a strategy for decision-making that will steer your ship in the right direction; this process is known as strategic planning. The best strategic plans don’t appear out of thin air or pop up overnight. Developing the right plan for your business requires a deep analysis of your operations, goals, roles, and resources. Strategic planning consultants have put in the time, effort, and research to help businesses find the best path forward through actionable strategies. Of course, not all consultants are created equal, and some are bound to be a better fit for your organization than others. If you’ve decided it’s time to work with such a consultant, you’ll want to do your due diligence before selecting a candidate.
With that in mind, here are four important questions to ask before hiring a strategic planning consultant.
What to Look for in Strategic Planning Consultants
1. What Is Their Experience?
Just as you would before hiring a new employee, you’ll want to learn all about a strategic planning consultant’s prior experience before bringing them on board. Even if all strategic planning consulting firms share a similar skillset, some will have experience that’s more relevant to your business, and some will have more experience on the whole. Ask a candidate about the firms they’ve worked with in the past and the industries they’re familiar with. Prioritize those who have been consulting for a long time and who have helped similar firms as yours develop and execute effective plans.
2. What Is Their Process?
Though every business will benefit from a unique plan, consultants should bring a strong strategic planning process to the table as a basic framework to get started. It’s important to get a glimpse into these processes before choosing a strategic planning consultant. For example, at Leadership Resources, our Accelerate Leadership Program is designed to help every organization build a culture of accountability and productivity via tools, content, peer development, one-on-one coaching, and more. The specifics of this program vary from business to business, but the building blocks remain the same, and they’ve proven effective.
3. What Is Their Reputation?
The best strategic planning consultants should be proud to reveal their track record. Ultimately, of course, it’s up to you to dig deeper into a candidate’s reputation. Fortunately, it’s often easy these days to find reviews and testimonials online. Be sure to examine a wide range of feedback (if applicable), and don’t be afraid to ask a given consultant about specific situations or clients (though they may only be able to volunteer so much information).
4. Are They Compatible with Your Culture?
This last factor often gets overlooked, but it’s crucial for ensuring long-term success with a strategic planning consultant. Simply put, if your company doesn’t mesh well with a consultant and/or consulting firm, problems can quickly arise, stifling results and sending you back to the drawing board. So, take the time to get to know a strategic planning consultant before hiring them to see just how compatible (or incompatible) you are. If they’re not a good fit, it’s best to look elsewhere, even if said candidate has everything else going for them.
Selecting a strategic planning consultant requires a bit of strategy in its own right. Checking for experience, process, reputation, and compatibility will help you find a reliable, long-term partner that will propel your organization in the right direction with clarity and accountability.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease obstacles and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.