“All things are created twice. First mentally, then physically. The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blue print of the desired result.” – Stephen Covey
What is a Strategic Plan?
The plan to take your organization from where it is today to where you want it to be by leveraging your competitive advantages.
Why Do Plans Fail?
Lack of commitment.
Lack of budget.
Lack of focus.
A great plan overcomes each of these difficulties.
What Makes A Great Plan?
A great plan delivers in three key areas. Don’t worry. You don’t need a complete plan to start benefiting from planning.
o Purpose – The altruist reason your organization exists. How are you making a positive difference in the world?
o Core Values – The rules your team will follow as you pursue your vision. Your core values define your culture, your culture defines your brand and your brand drives your profits.
o Competitive Advantage – What your customers value most that you can deliver better than anyone else.
o Vision – The inspiring future state that your organization is chasing.
o Focus – What are the vital few objectives that the organization must achieve now? How will each team member contribute to meeting these objectives?
Operational Excellence – While chasing the vital few objectives, the organization must measurably perform and improve in these key areas.
o Finance – High growth companies suck cash. Cash is oxygen for business. Margins drive cash. You must have a plan to engage your entire team to win by the numbers.
o Customers – Businesses do not exist to make a profit, but to meet a human need. The better we meet that need, the more money we make. By maximizing the value you create for your customers you will maximize the value of your organization.
o People – Your team members are the only ones who can deliver amazing products and services to your customers. You must attract, retain and engage the best.
o Leadership – The only people who can engage your team are your leaders. People quit their leaders, not their companies. You must be able to grow great leaders to attract and retain great people.
Execute What Matters – The execution process is more important than the plan. Plans fail. A great execution process provides the agility to improve the plan and keep moving forward.
o Focus – No team or individual is given more than two vital objectives in addition to their normal duties. Each person or team knows what objective is #1. They will always choose to deliver on the #1 objective over #2 if a choice must be made. All objectives must further the top objectives of the organization.
o Leading vs Lagging – Lagging indicators tell you if you met your goal. Leading indicators predict goal accomplishment. Deliver on the lead measures to drive goal accomplishment. Ex: Calories consumed vs burned = lead measure. Weight = lagging measure.
o Data – We cannot manage what we cannot measure. Agree on how key indicators will be measured and define the win.
o Reporting Rhythm – At least weekly, team members report on the commitments they made to achieve their primary objective. Each week new commitments are made that will most impact the lead measure. Repeating the same commitment two weeks in a row is not acceptable.
o Score Boards & Celebrations – Once the win has been defined, have the team create a big, impossible to ignore scoreboard that tracks leading and lagging indicators. Celebrate milestones throughout the journey.
o Trust – Organizations execute at the speed of trust. Purposely grow and measure trust inside and outside of your organization.
How Do I Get Started?
You don’t have to do it all to benefit from planning. Below is a 3-step strategic sprint for those who are new to planning.
1. Determine your competitive advantage.
2. Create an inspiring vision built on your advantages.
3. Determine the next most important objective to move towards the vision. Execute the plan to accomplish that objective and create quick wins. Quick wins provide confidence, bandwidth and the cash needed to go back and fill in the next most important parts of your plan.
We will cover all of this and more on May 8th at the strategic planning workshop hosted by Guardian Bank and the Small Business Development Center. You will leave with an inspiring vision for your organization and a plan you can immediately start executing.
I will be co-leading this event with the amazing staff of our local SBDC. Our special guest will be Dr. Ronald Zaccari. Dr. Z has developed and executed more plans in real life than anyone I know. Having someone with Dr. Z’s experience providing input to your plan will be an opportunity you do not want to miss.
Go to www.georgiasbdc.org/spw to register. There is still time. You will not regret it!
Have a business growth topic or question you’d like me to cover? Send suggestions to email@example.com or use our contact form by clicking here.
Curt Fowler is President of Fowler & Company and Director at Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey . He is dedicated to helping leaders create and achieve a compelling vision for their organization. He is a syndicated business writer, keynote speaker and has an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School. He is also a CPA and a pretty good guy as defined by his wife and four children.