Keys to Serious Strategy and Planning
By Ted Miller and Amie Gray, DataKey Consulting, LLC
Every company, large and small, needs a long term game plan to sustain, and better yet, improve their competitive position. Strategic planning is the only way to ensure that the long term plan for a company evolves with the change in environmental factors, the company’s core capabilities and the competitive factors in the industry.
You believe the leadership team of your company is aligned and working toward the same outcome – growing a competitive, increasingly valuable business. You work hard; your team works hard; managers do their best; employees are loyal.
It’s all great, until you realize that your business metrics are stuck – or worse – sliding in reverse. As a business owner, you want those metrics to be improving every day, every month, every year.
Companies have difficulty fully realizing their vision. Planning is difficult in the face of strong competition, declining market share, and shrinking profit margins. It is recommended that the Strategic Planning process be conducted over a short series of working sessions to understand the longer term company strategy and business goals. The best companies tackle strategy and planning to take advantage of new market opportunities, improve profits, and grow the business.
Below are top tips and characteristics to accelerate your strategic plan.
- Capitalize on your company’s unique strengths which introduce a truly fundamental advantage in the marketplace. Make a move that increases your differentiation; the competition follows you.
- Clarify the future direction of the company, the desired state over a longer time horizon, as well as the specific steps needed for near-term success. Your strategic progress needs to be measureable.
- Facilitate the development of a robust challenge statement and strategic vision that will have the full support of the management team. Your strategic intent must stand up to challenges. Unless your leadership team is aligned to the right strategy, nothing changes.
- A clear, concise, written strategy will stand the ‘test of time’ and be the compass for business decisions and execution. The leadership team needs true consensus at the strategic level to guide day-to-day decisions and action.
- Strategies for creating value have shifted from only managing financial or tangible assets to include measuring intangible pieces critical to your success such as brand recognition, internal growth and customer goodwill.
- Establish goals for the upcoming year or two, and develop the annual action plan to move the company towards the desired state. Action plans need to consist of measurable objectives with target deadlines.
- Each goal must be assigned to an owner from your management team, who is responsible for detailed planning, progress and proactive risk mitigation. Goals must be fully developed down to specific action plans with budget assigned.
- The management team can hold each other accountable through a monthly goal review process to ensure progress towards the goals by managing obstacles and risks.
Strategy is tightly linked to tactical plans throughout the organization. By following the above recommendations, your company mission, strategic objectives and business goals will be thoroughly defined, aligned and integrated.