The Strategic Plan
In most cases the objective of putting a plan together is to get from Point A to Point B. In order to do that effectively and efficiently, you need to put some sort of system in place to help you get to the desired end result. The process needs to be continuous and it will require great focus and some sort of pattern to stay on track and productive. It also needs to be living and you and your team need to be able to learn from it, the good, the bad and in some cases, the ugly.
A good strategy will dictate how you proceed, the road you have chosen, and you will need to do occasional temperature checks to make sure things are being executed according to plan. You need to have a unbiased look at what has and hasn’t worked before, and use those lessons learned to help you run a smoother plan now.
On average strategic plans can take between three to six months. Having said that, you must recognize and understand that no two businesses are completely the same and neither are their strategic plans.
Company Core Values and Your Envisioned Future
Some companies confuse their mission, vision and values. Your mission is what your company actually does and why it exists. Your vision statement is used to communicate and provide purpose and direction to employees, customers, vendors, and stakeholders. A effective value statement clearly states the principles that the company is founded upon: explaining your passion for what you do, the standards which you live by and how you will make it happen.
7 Geese defines Core values as, “Core values are what support the vision, shape the culture and reflect what the company values. They are the essence of the company’s identity – the principles, beliefs or philosophy of values.”
With teamwork pulling your mission, your vision and values together should take approximately 2 weeks. Take time to focus on your intent and make sure all stakeholders have input, and buy-in. Only once everyone has approved, stamp your final draft as approved and commit it to your strategic plan. Note: if you have these Core items in place already, consider revisiting them and whether the company has actually holistically committed to them. If not, this may be the time to re-write them or recommit to them.
Assessing where you are positioned
Take a look at the industry and market and assess your position within them. Look at your company culture, leadership, climate, employees and their skills, teamwork and how quickly it can all be called to action.
Normal duration of this research should generally take about two to four weeks. Some questions to consider during the assessment:
- SWOT – what are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- What does your position look like, next to the competition?
- What are the political, economic, social, technical and disruptive trends that could impact your organization?
Creating priorities within your strategic plan
In the previous two sections you worked on where you are and where you want to go. Now, we are going to focus on how you are going to get there. Use your position assessment and your SWOT to help you map out the road ahead. This information will also be used as the foundation for your strategies and goals. This is where you will determine what is going to work and what will not. Its all about hard choices. Your strategic plan needs to be clear, focused and visual! It needs to tell a story about your client, who they are, why they need your product and services and what solutions it solves for them.
Spend time discovering how your company is different from the competition. Does your brand and how you are marketed to the world, reflect those differences? If not, then you need to explain how you will make sure that it does. The timeline of this competitive discovery usually takes two to three weeks.
Some questions you can ask during this phase:
- How are you competing and what value are you delivering?
- What is your company best at and what makes you unique?
- What are the big objectives which need to be met to reach your vision?
- What are the milestones which need to be accomplished in the next year, two years and three years, in order to meet your strategic objectives?
Work with your internal team, made up of people from all levels to gather this information and work collectively. Their insight, advice, opinions and considerations will be extremely valuable to the creation of your strategic plan. Start out with a bran-storming session (kanban or using stickies), divide the duties of gathering into sections to be distributed, then bring your team back together with the information found and get to work developing your plan.
Need help pulling your plans together? Yellowhat would be happy to help, just give us a call to discuss further!