Much of my work involves strategic planning. Over the years I have observed that there are different kinds of strategic plans, and different views on what constitutes an excellent plan. This can lead to trouble when it comes with a mismatch of expectations within one team.

I wonder, why is there so much difference? There is probably a long list of reasons. You could argue that variability occurs because the strategy sector does not provide standards like other professions do. You could argue it’s a resource constraint issue – some have more resources to invest in planning, others have less; this affects the workplan, and thus the results.

In my view, though, one of most important drivers of difference is mindset.

Leaders with a strong appetite for change to have a “Growth mindset.” They find themselves aching for more. Some want to serve their base in a new or different way. Some want to solve for a disruption, like a new competitor or even a new CEO. All want to significantly increase their impact. These leaders value a strategic plan with components that include a deep understanding of their target market, current market trends, lessons from others in and outside of the field. They are looking to make a case for change, and new models to realize it.

Leaders with an “Operational mindset” are pretty happy with the model they have in place, but they want to do it better. Some want greater operational efficiency, while others hope for more skilled workers. Everyone wants more access to capital. While they often want validation that their model is working, what these leaders really crave is a thoughtful approach to leveling up the organization’s processes, structure, and capabilities.

What’s your mindset?

To set your strategic planning process up in the best way, you will benefit from clearly stating your mindset at the beginning of the planning process. Doing so will go a long way toward ensuring an efficient and productive planning process.