We’ve all heard the old Yiddish proverb, “We plan, God laughs.” So, why do we need a strategic plan?
Know Your Business, Understand Your Vision, and Articulate It
A Strategic Plan is a blueprint of a company’s vision, mission, and objectives. The most comprehensive ones offer a detailed plan of execution, and include quantifiable, measurable metrics for conversion and evaluating and assessing growth and progress.
In order to accurately plan for the future of your company or business, you must be clear on your vision – or, what you want your organization to accomplish. When you started your business, what did you imagine? How did you see your product/service/idea filling a public need? Enriching the community? What was the dream? What do you want your legacy to be?
Now, separate from what you WANT your business to be, identify what your business IS. Today. Right Now. Assess what it is your business does. What is its mission? Look at who you serve, and how you serve them. How do you function? What are the things you and your employees do every day to deliver your product/service? Do an honest and thorough assessment of who you are.
Make note of where your vision and mission are both in and out of alignment. That will make creating your objectives easier. This informs your what you do next.
Assemble Your Wise People, And Together Be Wiser
It’s Saturday night, and you and your friends are getting together at yours to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones. You know, with all of those people coming, that you should surprise them and order food. You order two sausage and pepperoni pizzas, two large order of spicy buffalo wings, and four 2-liter bottles of Coke. You spend close to $100 dollars and two hours of your time to ensure your friends are comfortable. When your friends arrive, two of them tell you they’ve already eaten. Two more of them tell you that even though this was SO thoughtful of you, they are vegetarians and can’t eat the pizza or the wings. The last friend says that they are on a challenge and are abstaining from drinking soda. Your feast, considerate and expensive, is a miss. How could this have been avoided? What did you miss?
Successful strategic planning demands clear, concise communication with your team of advisors and seeking their buy-in. Gather any owners and investors, as well as representatives from as many functioning departments as you can – from team leads to floor workers – because they can speak to the needs/challenges/opportunities that effect them, and if you design a strategy without involving them, you risk missing key details that inform solutions.
While no strategic plan can be completed in one meeting, have your team arrive with a studied analysis of their department’s strengths, weaknesses, areas of opportunity, and threats. Allow the free flow exchange of ideas – be clear that you’re clear on what makes each department or focus area work, and what is needed to make it work better.
It’s right there in the title isn’t it? Strategic Plan. This is the part where you and your team use the information you’ve gathered to create measurable objectives designed to align your company mission with your vision. How can we get from where we are to where we want to go? These objectives should encompass your long and short term operational and financial goals, as well as your ideal customer/client outcomes.
Institute a workable, achievable timeline, and establish actionable KPI’s so that you can accurately measure your progress.
Collect KPI data and create a daily, weekly, or monthly scorecard. Transfer that info to a performance dashboard, so that employees can monitor their progress.
The action plan takes all the words, the meetings, and the talk of the objectives and puts them into the walk of action. What steps, what moves, what changes will we make as an organization to accomplish our goals and objectives?
An action plan is not a one-and-done. It is, and will always be, a dynamic document – adapting and reconfiguring to accommodate business growth and environmental and industry changes. Watch what works well and what isn’t yielding the expected results. Be ready to revise and rework the plan if/as company needs dictate.
BE SPECIFIC. Ask the questions to determine your steps. WHAT actions are we performing? WHAT resources will need to be allocated to ensure successful execution of these actions? WHEN will we have it completed?
Make micro what was once macro. Instead of ‘This department’, or ‘This team’, assign individual ownership of tasks and ensure accountability for their completion. WHO will be responsible for what? WHO will be in charge of documenting/communicating the status? Create milestones.
Communicate, Follow Up, and Succeed!
Communicate the plan to all of your employees. Even those employees that don’t have their name attached to a specific task should know the company’s commitment to the plan’s success, and should understand their role, (whatever the size), in its implementation.
KEEP CHECKING IN!! It’s easy to get mired in the day-to-day activities of your business. Establish and stick to monthly or quarterly check-ins to ensure the steps of the plan are being executed properly and KPI’s are being met and monitored. Incentivize employees that meet or exceed the established metrics, and work on motivating employees that are slower to adapt to change. The success of the employee is the success of the company, and the success of the company is the ultimate goal.
For more information on developing a strategic plan, contact Kelbree Business Consulting.