Defining a Strategic Plan: Are You Reaching Your Goals?
Are you reaching your strategic goals?
Strategic planning comes in many flavors and there are many methodologies to create a successful plan to guide companies to achieve their substantial goals.
While many companies have some type of annual planning process to define goals and budgets, the plans are often more tactical than strategic and often define short-term goals by quarter for the next year. For example:
- Sales and client service staff may know the revenue goals yet may not have a detailed plan to define the steps or new offerings it will take to achieve the goals.
- Technical teams may have defined projects to implement but may lack the time and resources to develop new products/services.
- Senior leaders typically track and review the financial goals quarterly. As a consultant I hear about quarterly success or failures. Often the reviews are financially driven without detailed context of the strategies and steps that resulted in success or gaps in achieving the desired goals.
I recently facilitated a strategic planning workshop based on strategies from the book Vivid Vision by Cameron Herold. The concept is focused on the leadership team creating a vivid vision three years into the future and aligning the entire company on strategies to create that future.
Herold’s idea is to create a Vivid Vision based on a big hairy audacious goal — something big and different that people won’t know how they’re going achieve, or how to get there. This process can make people a bit uncomfortable. When we look at inspirational companies whose leaders made bold statements about their future products, companies like Apple, Virgin, and Tesla, some people in those conference rooms must have been uncomfortable with the big ideas their leaders asked them to embrace. Aligning on a shared future empowers the teams to think differently and create new strategies for their companies.
The effectiveness of the Vivid Vision strategy is the alignment and purpose it generates among the leaders and managers. I saw tactically focused production and operations managers open up and generate supportive ideas based on imagining a new future for their company and their teams. The workshop provided dedicated time spent to giving people space to think big, without the daily constraints of getting production out the door.
The Vivid Vision process then enables teams to define goals and projects that are the building blocks for the future vision. By defining smaller projects with goals, milestones, and metrics the team will create the path, though not linear, to a future state. Herold recommends quarterly reviews of the Vivid Vision and bringing the teams together to reinforce the long-term vision and celebrate the small wins along the way. The process of creating projects and tasks and taking small steps, with metrics, enables companies to see their future vision become reality.
Strategic thinking requires a different level of creativity and critical thinking to map out a vision for the future. How will our company need to change and evolve to remain relevant as technology and the industry change? What will cause disruption for us? For our customers? What will it take to achieve success? Where will new competition come from? Big questions that require time, commitment, and creativity to boldly to plan for the future.
A commitment to strategic planning from the leadership team will enable managers to put aside daily responsibilities, pause, and creatively define projects that will lead to larger goals. Managing and measuring to a defined strategic plan is distinguishing success factor for leading companies. A strategic plan does not need to be a lengthy document that sits on a shared drive. An effective strategic plan can be a short three-page document that clearly defines the future state and goals for each department. Spending the time to create alignment among the entire company and having the discipline to manage to a strategic plan will provide clarity, energy, and passion that informs daily decisions and generates results.
Input for this piece was provided by Mark M. Fallon, president and CEO, The Berkshire Company:
Mark M. Fallon is president and CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting firm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. The company develops customized solutions integrating proven management concepts with emerging technologies to achieve total process management. He offers a vision of the document that integrates technology, data quality, process integrity, and electronic delivery. His successes are based upon using leadership to implement innovative solutions in the document process. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lois Ritarossi is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at email@example.com.