Failing to Plan is a Great Way to Go Out of Business

You may have heard the saying, “If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.” That’s the way strategic planning should be considered. Strategic market planning is often viewed as the practice of the largest corporations. But how do you think they got to that size? It wasn’t by playing Russian roulette with their company and investments! There is an efficient way to go about planning and here are a few steps to follow.

Step #1: Set aside specific time to prepare your strategic plan. Be prepared to spend some energy and enthusiasm as well. If your company is in a negative market position, meaning it is not as well thought of as it was in past years, there may be some significant time and energy required to figure out why and what to do next.

Step #2: Bring your best creativity skills to the planning process. Many innovations result because someone figures out a better or new way of doing things. Following what everyone else in your industry is doing is not a productive way to come up with a new approach. Think about it, you’ll end up where everyone else ends up! So bring your best thinking, wacky thinking, and bring in others who can provide a new perspective. At our firm in Chicago we used to say, “We don’t care where or who has the best ideas, just that we have them!” And that’s whom we rewarded respectively.

Step #3: List all of your existing assumptions about your business strategy and question everything. The benefit of this process is that you may have outgrown some of your strategies and they will be surfaced by thinking through ‘what’ you do and ‘why’ you do it. The key here is to be willing to axe what is no longer working and put something new in its place. Consider Google. Once a year now they discontinue several or more significant services when they conclude they are no longer bringing value to the majority of their customers. That’s just good product management. This keeps their products fresh and continues to build momentum for their company.

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