It is the time of year when many companies either create or review their strategic plans. For some, this is an energizing experience. For others, it is more of a reminder that a plan was done at some time in the past but various distractions kept it from being implemented, so the benefits were never realized.
Strategic planning that actually gets results takes more than a meeting – or even a weekend retreat for senior management. It involves habitual attention. There are four basic steps in the process, but the last one may be the most important.
Start with collecting the best information possible – both internal and external. Gather as much data as you can on customers’ needs and competitors’ actions. Review past plans and solicit employee insights. Using the best data is the key to being confident in strategic decision making. (Note: involving your staff in the process provides insight for creating buy-in for the final plan).
Create, confirm or refresh your organization’s mission, vision, values and core competencies. These elements need to be clear and owned by more than senior management. They need to be embraced by everyone and applied throughout the company.
This is the discipline of building a plan that you can, and will, implement. It needs to be articulate and understandable by everyone who will participate in making it happen. Short of that, it is simply words on paper that will not produce the intended results.
One of the steps often overlooked in this segment is the need for alignment of resources. If the plan calls for changes – and it should – then budgets, staff assignments, and all other resources should be reviewed and adjusted to empower the new plan.
This is where the “habit” part comes in most significantly. Assuming everyone will put the plan into practice is a mistake. Regular discussion of the plan and review of results is where progress is revealed. There will be areas where progress happens quickly. Celebrate them. In other areas it will happen slower. Enhance them. And, in some areas, plan revisions may necessary due to lack of progress, new information, etc. Learn and adjust. Living the plan daily and reviewing it monthly may be what changes the experience from simply another planning process to a major step forward for your company.
Expert help makes a difference. Find a facilitator/consultant who understands and runs this process regularly. Time is valuable. You and your team are very busy. Use someone who can keep the process – and the meetings – focused. A good consultant will explain the process and expected outcome from the beginning and assure that it is timely and productive.
Price CPAs provides strategic planning through our strategic partnership with Don Klein Consulting. Don’s 20+ years in business communications, 16 years as a CEO and 4 years as a strategic planning consultant make him a valued resource. Our intent is to help companies in succession/transition or wanting to grow to prepare plans that help them identify, clarify and accomplish their goals.
For more information you can contact Don Klein Consulting at 615/477-3100 or through their website at www.don-klein.com.