The 7 Principles of Masterful Planning

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    The Drivers Model is Leadership Strategies’ methodology for strategic planning and the ultimate tool for masterful planning. The Drivers Model process covers seven key principles for masterfully planning any activity. The seven principles are summarized below. Let’s break down each one.

    Seven Principles of Masterful Planning
    1. Be clear on purpose.
    2. Start with an accurate assessment of today.
    3. Create a shared vision of success.
    4. Identify your critical successful factors and barriers.
    5. Define the drivers: your strategies and priorities.
    6. Monitor and report results.
    7. Have rewards and consequences to build accountability.

    1. Be clear on purpose.

    With any activity, start with purpose: Why are we doing this? With the house example, our purpose was to find a house that was more suitable to our needs. Purpose always answers the question why.

    2. Start with an accurate assessment of where you are today.

    You should always start with an accurate assessment of where you are today. Why is that important? Because you may think that you have overcome certain barriers when you really haven’t.
    Perhaps an example will illustrate the importance of starting with an accurate picture of today. Let’s say you wanted to drive from Atlanta, in the southeastern United States, to Los Angeles, on the west coast. You would have to drive west to get there. But what if your perception was that you were in Atlanta but, in reality, you were in Seattle also on the West Coast? What happens when you drive west? Let’s just say you might end up a little wet, which probably was not part of your vision. So, you may create a compelling vision of where you want to be. However, if you do not clearly define where you are today, you may end up thinking you are outside certain barriers. As a result, you can end up doing the wrong things and not getting the result you want. Therefore, key point number one is that you must start with an accurate assessment of where you are today.

    3. Create a shared vision.

    Once you have an accurate picture of today, you then create a shared vision. Not just a vision, but a shared vision. You can probably imagine what would have happened if I and my wife had a different vision of the type of home we wanted.

    Yes, we would end up getting the house my wife wanted of course! But can you imagine the conflict and struggle along the way? Because we would want different things and would be pulling in different directions, many of the decisions we needed to make along the way would have resulted in a major fight over whose vision would prevail.

    By creating a shared vision up front, we have the “fight” only once. Once the vision was created, we would be able to make decisions together in line with achieving that vision.

    In many organizations, there are entire departments that have different visions of where the organization needs to be. Imagine the chaos when each department goes off in a different direction. And sometimes those different directions are mutually exclusive – if one is successful, the other has to fail. What a waste – all resulting from a lack of a shared vision.

    4. Identify your critical success factors and barriers.

    With that shared vision defined, principle number four is that you then focus on identifying the major barriers to achieving that vision. You ask yourself, “Why haven’t we achieved our vision already? What’s standing in our way? What’s keeping us where we are today?”

    Then, you must understand your critical success factors. What’s critical to getting you where you want to be? What are the key conditions that, if you create them, will drive the achievement of the vision?

    5. Define your drivers.

    After identifying your barriers and critical success factors, principle number five is to define your drivers. What are the key strategies that are going to get you to your vision? Remember that the strategies have to address each of the barriers and critical success factors.

    6. Monitor.

    With principle six, you monitor your progress to keep on track and stay motivated to achieve your vision.

    7. Have rewards and consequences to build accountability.

    Finally, be sure to have rewards and consequences to build accountability. Even with a monitoring process, if there is no form of accountability people quickly learn that it is not essential to perform.

    Learn more on strategic planning and the Drivers Model with this helpful tool: A Quick How-To on Strategic Planning


    Certified Master Facilitator Michael Wilkinson is the CEO and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, Inc., The Facilitation Company, and author of the new The Secrets of Facilitation 2nd Edition, The Secrets to Masterful Meetings, and The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy. Leadership Strategies is a global leader in facilitation services, providing companies with dynamic professional facilitators who lead executive teams and task forces in areas like strategic planning, issue resolution, process improvement, and others. The company is also a leading provider of facilitation training in the United States.