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We can hear the outcry now: “What? Seriously!?! Strategic planning drives me crazy! I can’t think of anything worse for my mental health!”
Okay, look, not everyone enjoys strategy planning as much as we do. But hold with us for a minute and think about this: What if strategy planning included giving more attention to the culture of an organization by addressing the human connection needs of its employees?
An Epidemic of Loneliness
This week the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, came out with an 81-page report on the impact of loneliness on people in the U.S. Here are several quick takeaways from the report:
- Widespread loneliness poses the same health risks as smoking 15 cigarettes each day.
- Loneliness increases the risk of premature death by almost 30% because those with poor social relationships may have a greater risk of stroke and heart disease.
- The loneliness of isolation can also increase depression, anxiety, and dementia for those already experiencing them.
- The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated loneliness as people further reduced their contact with friends and family. For example, in 2020, Americans spent an average of 20 minutes each day interacting with friends while nearly 20 years ago they spent an average of 60 minutes per day with friends.
The Surgeon General calls on people, parents, workplaces, schools, businesses, and organizations to make changes that will boost a sense of connectedness to others.
How Adaptive Strategy Planning Helps
And that’s where Adaptive Strategy Planning can make a difference! When a group does strategy planning the focus is often external. Vision, mission, strategic goals, and operational activities are aligned through strategy planning to achieve success. Success is often defined as more effectively leveraging its competitive advantage to achieve its mission as well as sustain the organization or business.
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation it created for many people, we believe strategy planning needs to adapt to include an internal focus. Focusing internally means including a plan for strengthening the group’s culture. In strengthening culture, an organization or business is attending to its intangible assets of human connections, relationships, and camaraderie. These can define the culture of an organization or business which, in turn, drives effective implementation of the external strategy plan.
The place to begin strengthening the culture of a group is by examining its espoused values that inform other elements of a strategy plan.
- Do the values inform how employees are viewed and esteemed within the business?
- Are connections valued between and among people at all levels in the organization?
- Is our group culture seen as having an impact – positive or negative – on mission achievement?
When these are reflected in a group’s statement of values, then they can be animated through specific strategic goals and activities.
At Tenacious Change, as we officially come out of the COVID-19 pandemic next week, we believe it is important to include an internal focus in any strategy planning efforts. If a group’s internal culture is weak, it will often have a negative impact on the external implementation of the strategy plan…not matter how elegant the plan appears. People are the heart and soul of a healthy culture. When they are feeling alone and disconnected, the culture will suffer. However, strategy planning can help when it also includes an internal focus on the well-being of employees, members, and staff at all levels.
If you’d like to learn more about this…let’s connect!
A recording of our April 19th online seminar, Preparing for Controversy in the Fog of (Culture) War, is still in process. We hope to have it ready to share in the next two weeks because we have work related travel coming up later this week.
In the meantime, enjoy some of our Change Maker interviews on the Tenacious Change YouTube Channel.