The honeymoon is over. Which is not a bad thing. Solid relationships founded on trust and mutual respect grow, deepen, and strengthen when you realize that your husband, wife, partner, parent, clergy person – you get the idea – is not perfect and that you have legitimate differences of opinion.

It’s the same with organizations. Strategic planning, done well, is meant to honestly assess not only your company’s strengths and weaknesses, but also how closely your team is aligned in terms of their shared vision for the future. It calls for deep thinking, for a willingness to be moved from individual positions, and for compromise.

Note that I said “solid relationships founded on trust and mutual respect.” Strategic planning can act like a stress test for a company, and without a solid foundation, there is nothing on which to build.

Remember, too, that the primary benefit of strategic planning isn’t just the plan itself. It’s the result of what happens when stakeholders come together, often for the first time, to work as a team.

During this phase, led by the Strategy Task Force, we’ll review – or create – the vision, mission and values of the company, discuss how to make them come alive in the day-to-day work of the organization, and generate no more than five strategic goals designed to advance the mission.

All of this is summarized in a document that defines the future of the company, and that will serve as a roadmap for our next phase, where we’ll create and implement the plan.

If you’d like to catch up on the first two phases, you can do so here.