Strategic Planning

Diversity Vital for Strategic Planning

Diversity of thought and inclusion are vital in developing your strategic plan,
and achieving this could be a matter of ‘mixing things up’.

It is now well established that diversity strengthens companies. It does not—as we have recently seen with some boards—protect against failure.

The correct initial focus on gender now needs to expand and not just into the domains of race, religion, sexuality and age. For any business strategy to succeed, this needs to extend across an industry and include the up and down supply chain, customer, and international perspectives.

Additionally, employees at all levels of your organisation can provide insights and engage in the process. This has the added advantage of improving the perspective of their own place and role in the organisation, as well as your role and that of others.

The Haines process demands parallel planning, and broad consultation, which provide vital levers in supporting the benefits of diversity.

I recently read an article on a company in the US, that uses its seating plan as an engine for diversity. Using something that is nearly as emotive to office workers as car parking as a management tool is interesting. The seating plans were managed by the HR department and staff could be moved around as frequently as quarterly. With each new project, staff would be placed next to business units that were key to any particular stage of the project’s growth. The inevitable informal water cooler interactions reinforced formal working relations.

Flexible seating arrangements were also used in other ways. For example, an area that may have been struggling with budgeting, would find themselves placed near the finance section for a while. Whilst this may be a little extreme for some, and the potential for disruption must be acknowledged, it does highlight the importance of mixing it up a little.

If a company is particularly interested in innovation, this approach is critical. As I will discuss in more detail in a future blog, although they cannot become disconnected, it is exceedingly rare that the team that can run the organisation well, will be the same team that can change the organisation.

The business as usual team, aside from being involved in their core duties, which will only allow them, at best, incremental improvements, they are unlikely to come up with the lateral thought required. Core parts of the day-to-day team must be engaged, to provide that vital reality check. But a different team will be needed.

Diversity and inclusion are not only part of sound ethical practice, when it comes to strategic planning, they are a vital part of the process.

About the Author:

Jason Thomas is the Founder of de Montaigne Strategic Planning, which provides robust strategic planning and training services to small to medium-sized enterprises, not-for-profit organisations and government departments.

He has over 30 years’ experience in senior leadership, operational and planning roles across the military, public and private sectors. In addition, Jason holds numerous degrees and qualifications including Gold Mastery Certification with the Haines Centre for Strategic Management.