It’s Time For a Strategic Plan for Your Family

Tuesday, October 20 2020

Strategic planning is routine in organizations. It provides a vital roadmap so that the long-term objectives of the organization are achieved. Without a plan, there is no direction, inefficiencies arise, and business failure becomes a greater risk. In his book, Principle Centered Leadership, Steven Covey makes the case that a variation of strategic planning enriches family relationships because it helps members to be united in purpose.[1]

One challenge you must guard against is that when you apply these planning principles to your personal life you cannot be “the boss” and drive the process with management authority and efficiency. This will fail. You must be the patient parent and/or spouse leading with love rather than authoritarianism. The objective is to unite the members of your family with common values and goals. Families do not behave like employees so the planning process will be less formal, probably make more detours, and take additional time than it would in the business setting, but the outcomes can be even more meaningful.

A good place to start is by identifying the values that define your family. All families operate within a set of values that shape the relationships and the culture within them.  Families do not usually define their core values with precision. Rather, most operate with an inherited set of values that operate in the background of family dynamics. Deliberately considering these values rather than relying on default settings turns values into an active guiding compass that is especially useful in challenging times, as well as in good times.

Clearly defined values illuminate the goals and vision for the whole family, and for individual members. Worthy goals and objectives provide long-term perspective. Shared goals, whether held in common or individually, motivate teamwork and support. When one member of the family achieves something, the entire group wins.  Clear values and common goals strengthen bonds and unity.

In many ways there is much more at stake in our families than in our business. Covey’s modified strategic planning tips for families help us create a safety net for when we fall short and a beacon that guides course correction so that we can continue to grow, develop, and strengthen our families.

[1] See: Covey, Steven R. Principle-Centered Leadership, Fireside, 1992, Chapter 12