After assuming his CEO role, Harris’s message to employees was, “I believe we have a lot of opportunities for bringing on new products and improving our promotions.” Harris further explained that he had scheduled a retreat with his seven direct reports to firm up a strategic plan.
Prior to the retreat, Harris and his team researched industry trends, competitors’ strategies, and the company’s internal strengths and weaknesses.
During the retreat Harris unfolded his vision of investing heavily in product development and changing promotions to rely more on social media and celebrity sponsors.
After vigorous and extensive debates, team members enthusiastically agreed that they emerged from the retreat with sound plans for improving products and promotions.
Following the retreat, Harris and his team presented goals, timetables and metrics to all operating managers. After making a few modifications based on managers’ suggestions, all divisions understood and readily accepted their responsibilities.
The antidote to the illusion of participative planning is for the leader to initiate a clear vision and strategies. Of course, the leader should encourage suggestions and accept improvements. Also, particular departments should have some latitude in how they execute their contributions to the plan.