The Coltrain Strategic Action Program

Strategic Planning that Works

12567959_sThe Coltrain Strategic Planning Program is for leaders who believe that a focused vision, clear direction, and action-oriented goals are vital keys to the success of their organization.

Great leaders know that you have to take charge of your future. You must set a course that gives you the best chance of success, whether that means dominating your market, disrupting your competitors’ plans, delivering the best possible value to your clients, or all of the above.

But plotting the right course is not easy. Markets change. Technologies emerge and long-standing business models lose their vitality. Regulatory environments shift and customers’ estimation of value changes. As a leader, you need a dependable, repeatable process of tapping the best thinking in your company to find your way through the maze.

And planning itself is no guarantee of success. Organizations of all sizes struggle with sustaining the actions that convert plans into reality. Even great plans are vulnerable to poor communication and inconsistent execution.

The Coltrain Strategic Action Program is a customizable program that spans the full range of the strategic planning process, from visioning to real world action. It provides a system for identifying innovative strategies and bridges the dangerous gap between the planning retreat and daily execution.

What’s Wrong with Traditional Strategic Planning?15614101_s

The typical strategic plan is built at a 1- or 2-day, off-site facilitated retreat, where the leaders of the company spend their time learning about the mega-trends effecting their business, hearing about a world-famous company doing something exciting, then spending relatively little time brainstorming new and exciting ideas for their own company. These might get wrapped up into a couple of “big hairy audacious goals” and whole thing ends up at an executive golf outing while assistants summarize the output into three-ring binders.

But unless those sessions are exceptionally well-facilitated and the right people are in the room, there is a good chance that the session will be dominated by ho-hum thinking. The result will be a lackluster strategy that does not tap the best thinking of your organization.

The problem may not be the quality of your people. You may have extremely bright and talented people in your organization, but the structure of a traditional strategic planning session does not allow them to contribute to their full potential. Thus your company is robbed of an untold number of key advantages and insights because they are never uncovered at all.

Even if you do manage to identify a strong strategy and great opportunities, another problem occurs when everyone comes back to an office where nothing has changed. Without a clear structure, any inspiration that emerged during the planning process fades in the face of day-to-day demands. When individual managers take steps to implement the plan, they are usually uncoordinated and weak. Eventually, those too fade and the default decisions of the organization begin to reassert themselves.

Finally and most critically, traditional strategic planning processes ignore the cultural issues of change. New ideas, no matter how good they are, can unexpectedly collide with cultural values. Managing the change with goals and metrics alone will not help when they conflict with the values and expectations of your people, or the political and social realities of your company culture.

Now imagine it working…

…You hold a planning retreat in which your team digs deeper, thinks harder and identifies better solutions than they ever have before. There is little or no “we can’t do that” thinking.

…Typical “off-the-cuff” thinking is abandoned in favor of real mental work and breakthrough ideas.

…Your planning team doesn’t automatically submit to the boss’s ideas without critical thought, but rather examines them carefully, refines them, and makes them better.

…This time the loudest voices don’t dominate, and even the quiet reserved types contribute amazing ideas and perspectives.

…Every day after the planning session, groups of people in your organization are turning the best parts of the plan into concrete actions – not someday but now.

What if all of the people in your organization understood the real direction of your organization and embraced their part in making it happen? What could you accomplish with that kind of focus, unity, and strength at your disposal?

Your Strategic Action Program

Coltrain Group’s Four Phase Strategic Action Program will not only help you create a more innovative strategy, it will provide you with a systematic way to drive your strategy through your company. We provide methods to enhance internal communication, align efforts across divisions and establish cross functional groups within your organization specifically to support the ideas and changes needed to bring plans to fruition.

Coltrain Group consultants will take your company through the four critical phases of discovery, design, planning and implementation. The result will be a strategic plan that drives real change, supported by a repeatable planning process and a system for initiating enterprise-wide change that will have value far beyond one year’s planning cycle.

A full cycle planning solutioncoltraingroup-favicon-medium

Coltrain Group has developed this comprehensive Strategic Action Program to extend throughout the entire planning and execution cycle, ensuring that the plans will be executed and creating a clear process for course correction and strategic response. Unlike companies that only facilitate strategic planning sessions, Coltrain will design and deliver a complete program for your company. Including specialized support for those parts of the planning cycle where you need it the most.

In the comprehensive Strategic Action Program, we stay with you from the initial planning well into execution, researching, training, and facilitating your people to align their efforts to the new strategy. While we feel the complete program is by far the most effective approach, we also offer stand alone Strategic Planning services for clients if desired.

Why the Coltrain Method works

The Coltrain Method is a proven process and structure that has been tested in hundreds of organizations around the world. Based on research conducted by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University*, these methods have been expanded and refined in some of the toughest organizational cultures imaginable, including international organizations, schools, universities, government, and corporations.

The strength of the Coltrain Method comes in part from our use of uniquely structured group activities, which we call protocols. Protocols are designed to maximize collaboration, minimize personality related obstacles, increase innovative thinking, and improve communication throughout the organization. We’ll use specially selected protocols during your Strategic Planning sessions, and also train your staff to use other protocols during the execution phase.

Coltrain protocols are carefully designed processes that can be implemented without investment in technology or specialized staff. These protocols will build new skills in your organization, improving the effectiveness of visioning and planning sessions, but also accelerating execution and improving internal and external collaboration.

Powered by the protocols, Coltrain Method Groups will harness the power of your staff, allow them to focus on key goals, and bridge the gap between planning retreats and day-to-day tasks. Based on innovations from Learning Organization research, these cross-functional employee groups will be trained in latest techniques in collaboration, innovation and problem solving to support and drive your initiatives throughout the organization.

Finally, Coltrain consultants are available to provide one-on-one coaching for key managers or employees with responsibilities critical to the success of the strategy. New initiatives often call for new roles or behavior for a few key managers. Coltrain can give those managers the support they need to step into their new responsibilities with the greatest likelihood of success. .

Bottom line benefits

The Coltrain Group Strategic Action Program yield’s both immediate and long term benefits to your organization.

You and your staff will move beyond the surface level to deeper, more creative, innovative and collaborative thinking by engaging in Coltrain’s unique Strategic Planning process.

Both your strategy and your resulting Strategic Plan will be stronger, more focused, and very clearly connected to real world execution.

You will actually accomplish the transition from planning to execution, by using a specific, well-conceived process for engaging your staff and managing the change. The mechanisms for initiating and sustaining the required changes throughout the organization will be built in to your staff’s Coltrain Method Groups. These groups will serve as cross functional coordination, innovation and decision-making teams.

The planning and execution cycle will be embedded into your organization’s culture though a combination of training and coaching. In the process, your staff will learn collaborative skills that will create numerous and varied long term benefits throughout your organization.

How does the Program Work?

Every engagement begins with a 60- to 90-minute strategy session designed to explore your needs and determine if the Coltrain program is a good match. If we decide to work together, Coltrain Group consultants will lead a discovery process, meeting with key people in the organization and identifying the factors your company needs to develop a strong planning session.

Next, Coltrain consultants will design the components of the program your company needs – from the planning session through post-planning structures you will need to implement the plan. This will include choice of venue, the suggested participants, the structure of the event, and the process of documenting the outputs.

The planning event itself will be carefully facilitated to maximize the level of innovation and planning detail you need. The strategic planning sessions are usually intense multi-day experiences, using specific planning activities selected from among the many that Coltrain has developed.

Once the plan is completed, we will help identify and train one or more groups whose job it will be to help the organization meet the goals it has established for itself. The group will meet regularly for several months, helping extend plans, resolve problems, identify barriers, and refine understanding of the plan and its effectiveness.

Your Coltrain Group consultants will work with you throughout the process, coaching managers, helping solve problems, and adjust course as the inevitable issues emerge.

6981337_sThis program increases the effectiveness of your staff

As a bonus, the experience of participating in Coltrain Method Groups will increase your staff’s ability to collaborate and innovate well beyond the planning program. In fact, the unique process and activities they will learn can be applied equally well in problem-solving, refining project outcomes, evaluating data, and building broad alignment. Many clients find the Coltrain Method Group protocols working their way into standing meetings, ad hoc problem solving sessions, and executive presentations.

Is this program right for you?

The Coltrain Strategic Action Program is for leaders who want to maximize the impact of planning in order to make real and lasting change in their organization. If you haven’t ever developed a Strategic Plan, if the plans you have developed feel limited or unimaginative, or if you have struggled translating plans into action, this program is right for you. If culture has been a significant barrier, Coltrain Group’s expertise in cultural change can help your organization identify and fix the problems and engage your staff productively in the solution.

Call today for a free Strategy Session

It is easy to get started. Contact Coltrain Group today to schedule a free Strategy Session with an experienced consultant. We will review your situation carefully and explain how we work for you in detail. Together we will clarify your goals and identify the right process for your organization.

Contact us online or call Jim McKean, Senior Consultant, at 812-327-5534.

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