Dr. Nicole Assisi

Leadership Coach

Dr. Nicole Assisi

Chief Executive Officer, Thrive

Dr. Nicole Assisi is the CEO of Thrive and an experienced leadership coach and entrepreneur. San Diego Business Journal recognized her as a “40 under 40” leader and a finalist for CEO of the Year. Her schools were named among the most innovative in the nation and received a CA Senate Commendation. None of this would have been possible without a great team, which is why Nicole now dedicates her career to supporting leadership teams to reach new heights. She believes that given the right conditions, any leader can become a transformational leader and any team can thrive. As a coach and consultant, she supports hundreds of leaders and their organizations in increasing their capacity. As a professor, Dr. Assisi has worked at the University of Cambridge, University of California Los Angeles, California State University in Dominguez Hills and the University of San Diego. In addition to a multitude of teaching and leadership credentials, Nicole holds a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Southern California, two master’s degrees from the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University, is a certified Professional Certified Behavioral Analyst and holds an International Coaching Federation coaching certificate. LinkedIn

The Art of Strategic Planning: 6 Key Tips for CEOs

Pull out quote: “A strategic plan is foremost an opportunity to bring the team together and build a shared path for future success.”

As a seasoned CEO and consultant, I have seen firsthand the fast-paced and ever-evolving landscape CEOs must navigate. Today’s CEO faces uncertainties daily and must chart a course for success. The difference between those of us who lead with grace, and those of us who muddle through, is strong vision, clear plan and cohesive team. A great strategic plan can provide all of these.

A well-defined strategic plan acts as a roadmap, guiding the organization through a complex and uncertain business landscape. A strategic plan should clearly articulate the organization’s mission, vision, and core values, while also providing a flexible framework for adapting to changing circumstances. After supporting organizations, both large and small, in developing, implementing, and maintaining momentum on their strategic plans, I’ve distilled down six key takeaways that any CEO should consider to ensure a successful strategic plan and effective execution.

  • Take your time. First and foremost, remember that strategic planning is a deliberate and thoughtful process. To ensure that your strategic plan is a useful, living document that will drive the day-to-day efforts of your team, the process should not be rushed. The most difficult phase of the process can be looking in the mirror. Take the time to examine your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your team’s core strengths allows you to leverage them when focusing on opportunities for growth. Then, invest the necessary time and effort in conducting an analysis of external factors that might influence your company or organization’s future. Market trends and emerging technologies can present new possibilities, and also disrupt existing business models. Involving key partners in this deep analysis fosters a shared understanding of your organization’s direction and ensures successful implementation once you have your plan.
  • Ensure wide involvement. By actively involving employees in the planning process, CEOs can tap into a diverse range of perspectives, fuel innovation, and drive organizational success.Strategic planning is not merely a buzzword; it is a vital process that can shape the future of an organization. Employees and teams who engage in strategic planning gain a clear understanding of the company or organization’s long-term vision, enabling them to set achievable goals and make informed decisions. 

Moreover, strategic planning allows leaders to align the efforts of their teams, foster collaboration, and create a shared sense of purpose. A strategic plan is foremost an opportunity to bring the team together and build a shared path for future success.

  • Prioritize ruthlessly. Prioritization is crucial. Identifying and focusing on the top priorities will ensure that valuable resources are allocated strategically. It is easy to get caught up in the urgent but less important tasks of running a company. As a CEO, you must ensure the priorities that you include in your strategic plan move everyone towards your company’s vision. Resist the allure of shiny distractions that divert attention from your company or organization’s mission.
  • Keep it simple. Simplicity is key in strategic planning. Selecting two to five priority areas will allow you and your team to stay focused on moving towards your vision. While it may be tempting to create a lengthy and elaborate document, it is crucial to condense the plan into a concise and easily communicable format. A one-pager can effectively capture the essence of the strategy, ensuring clarity and facilitating alignment among team members. This does not mean that there will not be supporting documents beyond this one-pager, but a great plan must be digestible, clear and succinct.
  • Leverage your team: Given all the challenges and competing demands on a CEO’s plate, don’t underestimate the power of a strategic planning lead or consultant. Having someone who is in this work with you and holds the details, will let you focus on building the relationships without having to own the operational nuances of following a long process.
  • Make it a living document. Strategic planning without execution is merely wishful thinking. As a strong leader, you must drive the strategy forward through effective communication and a supportive organizational culture. CEOs should provide ongoing guidance, address challenges, and celebrate achievements along the way. Regular check-ins and progress reviews can help keep the momentum going and allow you to make adjustments to the strategic plan as needed.

Strategic planning is a transformative process that enables CEOs to steer their organizations towards success. By embracing these tips, you are on the road to crafting a robust strategic plan, engaging your team effectively, and navigating the ever-changing business landscape with confidence. Strategic planning is not a one-time event but an ongoing practice that drives continuous growth and innovation. Embrace its power, and watch your organization thrive.

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