Strategic Planning 101
By Jon Crandall, CSP
Great strategic planning sets the direction for where we are going and how we will get there. Such planning is essential to business growth. Many owners navigate the long process of creating a plan and then fail to execute. What is the cause of failure? Why, after a lot of money, time and good planning, do few succeed with follow-through? My company is religious when it comes to strategic planning. Following are some suggestions to help those who are struggling to take positive steps forward.
Step 1: Determine your BHAG: What is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)? This is a concept driven home by Jim Collins in his book “Built to Last.” Your goal should be clear, compelling and create a “unifying focal point of effort - often creating immense team spirit. A BHAG engages people - it reaches out and grabs them in the gut. It is tangible, energizing and highly focused. People ‘get it’ right away; it takes little or no explanation,” he writes. Your goal should have a clear end so your team will know when it has achieved the goal.
Once you identify your far-out goal, reverse-engineer how to get there whether in a year, three, five or even 10 years. The key is to establish incremental steps to get you there and then to make sure those steps remain aligned with your BHAG. You’ve probably heard the statement “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Step 2: Find the right system: Strategic planning comes in many forms. You can lock your executive team in a room for a day and self-facilitate. You can hire an industry consultant who will likely have their own spin, or you can use systems such as Scaling Up by Verne Harnish or EOS by Gino Wickman. Pick a system and stick to it if it works for your company.
Step 3: Choose your metrics: All business departments - finance, sales, operations, etc. - should measure metrics weekly. Great performers appreciate the metrics as long as they are attainable. The metrics are the map to success.
Lead and lag measures must be considered. Following lead measures enables us to manage change. A good example is if you choose to lose weight, the lag measure is pounds lost or gained and this can be viewed each week on the scale. The lead measure is the hours or numbers of exercises you have completed in a week and the number of calories you have consumed. If you monitor and change the calories and exercise you will change your lag number. A great video to watch that explains the proper use of metrics and the lead-lag concept was created by Franklin Covey (tinyurl.com/lead-lag).
Step 4: Execution and accountability: This step is where most fail. Leaders put the plan together but don’t establish regular meeting schedules and accountability. For example, establishing a three-year plan and then a one-year plan needs to be drilled down to quarterly goals and weekly meetings with proper metrics that will bring transparency and accountability to keep us on track. Every step should lead back to the BHAG.
Step 5: Culture and reward: None of this will work without a great team who cares and believes in the BHAG and each other. Sharing the BHAG and plan along with whomever is responsible for the steps to get everyone to the end goal creates inclusion, purpose and a team environment. The result? The client does well, the company wins and the employees win as well.
When the company has the right team in place, the direction is set and these steps are executed flawlessly, get out of the way because that BHAG will happen!