Hope Is Not Strategy

Many companies wait until after year end to begin planning for the next year. The typical excuse is, “We don’t yet know how this year will turn out, so once we know that, then we’ll establish the plan for next year.” This trap happens too often and limits the ability for a company to perform at it’s best. Waiting until this year is complete pushes the planning process into the first quarter of next year. During this time, the company essentially operates with little, if any, guidance on growth goals and therefore doesn’t alter there their efforts towards improved performance.

Strategic Planning is essential for developing a focused approach to improving company growth and performance. It provides a clear destination and path for the company to follow. Without this clarity hitting a target is a little like playing darts. You may throw the dart toward you target, but there is no way to course correct it on its path towards the target. You can only hope that your efforts get to where you intended. And, as John Maxwell and many others have said, “Hope is Not a Strategy!”

Strategic Planning provides for input from throughout your company and creates a path to follow that leads toward your goals. Actively using the Strategic Plan throughout the year allows for a much higher probability of achieving your goals. Why lose the first month or two to develop your Strategic Plan. Do it know.

The most effective way to build a Strategic Plan is to include your management team in a series of meetings to discuss each of the plan topics. As you might imagine these topics, by their very nature, will provide a multitude of opinions and perspectives. Because each member of the team has a different organizational perspective, they bring valuable insight and input to the process.

If you research Strategic Plans, you’ll find a variety of designs and various definitions for its components, but virtually all of them will incorporates these core components. Here is a brief description of each component.

Mission Statement – The Mission Statement defines the reason the organization exists, who it serves, and a description of the value it delivers to others. It may include or be supplemented by your, “Why” or Purpose Statement, but typically a well-designed Mission Statement can incorporate these perspectives. The Mission Statement is rarely updated unless the organization experiences significant change

Values & Value Statements – Defining the Values of your company should be an exercise of defining, “What’s really important around here.” It should include characteristics such as, honesty, Integrity, and mutual respect, but it might also include things like family, or work/life balance. Each value should have a statement associated with it that describes what that value looks like within the organization and answer the questions, “Why is it important?” and “How will I recognize it?”

Vision Statement – The Vision Statement is a description of what the company should look like in the future, say three to five years out. It is more idealistic and inspirational than the Mission Statement and should include a description of company size, market placement, and value proposition. In essence, what will the company look like when you, “get there.”

Objectives – Organizational Objectives should describe desired improvements to the capability and performance of the company. Establishing Objectives improves your ability to grow, survive (or thrive), and profit as a company. They are different than Goals because they are broader in nature and don’t include specific timeframes or measures. It may take the achievement of several goals to actually achieve an Objective.

Goals – These are measurable targets with specific achievement deadlines or time frames associated with the achievement of your organizational Objectives. Goals need to be written as SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound)

Strategies – To achieve each Goal the team may come up with several Strategies. Any Goal can have multiple Strategies, just be sure that each Goal and Strategy has a defined owner that can implement and achieve them.

Tactics & Measures – These consist of action plans that will be deployed for the achievement of your defined Strategies. The owner of the Strategy should be a main contributor to this section but should also incorporate the suggestions from others on the team, as appropriate.

Because of the various perspectives within your management team, the team approach can lead to a disoriented discussion that limits the ability of the group to efficiently and effectively, complete a functional plan. It’s best if these meetings are facilitated by an outside party with experience in Strategic Plan development. They will help facilitate the conversation, capture the multiple perspectives, keep the process moving forward, and guide the group to a specific plan definition.

If that approach, for whatever reason, isn’t practical for your company consider attending my Strategic Planning Workshop where we facilitate the process so that participants can work with their teams to complete each of the Strategic and Business Plan components.

To develop your own Strategic Plan, reserve a spot to attend my 4 part Strategic Planning Workshop by contacting me at https://StrategicOrientation.com/contact and we’ll get the registration process started. For more key tips on achieving business success check out my other blogs at https://www.StrategicOrientation.com/Blog and connect with me on Linked In.

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