Yes, it’s that time of year again to dust off the old strategic plan, or goals and see how you are doing. If you’ve been doing this monthly or quarterly, or even better bi-weekly, good for you, but you are in the minority. It was Eisenhower who said, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything,” and he was right.
I often go into companies and they are so busy doing business, meaning day-to-day operations, etc., that the goals they set out at the beginning of the year have ended up ignored. Don’t get me wrong, these companies are having some success and things are going along well, but what if more attention had been paid to those nicely laid out plans? Would they have achieved that extra 10% top or bottom line? Would they have added that crucial market sector they have been after for years? The reality is, it’s doubtful. Let’s consider why.
Continuous planning coupled with execution is one of the keys to business success. If you plan at the beginning of the year and never adjust you are always reacting to what’s happening instead of making things happen. To change this trajectory start by reviewing what you thought you wanted to accomplish this year – how did you do? What happened? What can we learn from that? The next step is to revise, change what didn’t work, and come up with some new ideas or strategies that might work. Or maybe the goal or strategy itself was not a good one, so chuck it out and come up with something more relevant.
Of course, it goes without saying that you don’t want to do this process of review and revise in a vacuum. You may be the owner or head of the company, but that doesn’t mean you have all the best ideas. The ideas are in the room. They are from your managers and employees whom you have hired and put faith in. Listen to what they have to say and shape it into a plan that everyone can get behind.
The last step is to reinvent. So often we are caught in our plan because of our beliefs around “what is.” It colors our beliefs about what “could be.” When I facilitate planning exercises, I tell people to think 3 years ahead and color in the picture for me of what the company looks like, who the customers are, what products are you selling and to whom, etc. But NOT based on the facts of today, based on the possibilities of tomorrow. It’s only in our belief that something can happen that it will. So reinvent the future, not by the rules or restrictions of today’s landscape, but by the possibilities not yet imagined.
This doesn’t need to be a long drawn out process, you need a competent facilitator (preferably not you, the owner or leader) and a target of where you want to go. The bones of a plan that can be implemented and an easy process for getting there. Too much complexity in the strategic plan and everyone will lose interest. Keep it simple and executable. And remember to build in your review times so you can revise and reinvent, then repeat!