A Simple Way to Plan Strategically
In working with clients on their strategic plans, I am often told that they had been thinking about planning for some time but were putting it off for any number of reasons. The most common seems to be the feeling that the planning process can be overwhelming and can take up a great deal of management time. In nearly every case these same executives later learn that their concerns were misplaced.
Involving your leadership team in the development and ongoing implementation of your strategic plan can energize a business by creating a feeling of ownership, shared values, and focus on a common purpose. Of course, it helps to have professional guidance to help you prepare and can lead your team and you through the process. These seven keys to planning success can help get you there.
Be realistic. Your objectives must fall into the zone between goals that are too easily accomplished and those that are beyond the abilities of the company to achieve. Just be practical and keep it simple. You don’t have to create the perfect plan the first time through. It will evolve over the months and years into a perfect fit you and your team. The most important thing is that you get started. Now.
Be flexible. Your best plan will be flexible and enable you to spot significant changes in circumstances and react accordingly. It’s been said that even the best, most well-conceived battle plan rarely survives first contact with the enemy. Or as Mike Tyson famously said, “everyone has a fight plan until they get punched in the head.” Accept the fact that changes will occur and that is a natural part of planning.
Establish measurements. There are few things that cannot be measured. Whether it’s an increase in sales, productivity, efficiency or, yes, even improvement in the relative strength of your corporate culture, established targets can and should be established, measured and progress monitored on a regular basis.
Set the planning period. Planning objectives should be stated in terms of a specific period-of-time. Setting five, three, and, one-year targets with quarterly reviews can be a highly effective way of keeping track.
Be committed to the process. As the organizational leader, you set the pace for the success of the enterprise. Being fully committed and actively engaged in the process, the creation and the implementation of the plan will go a long way toward ensuring its success.
Get help. An experienced, skillful, and objective third-party facilitator can be invaluable in organizing your initial planning session and in helping you stay on track at regular intervals (usually quarterly). Years of experience has shown me that preparing for and facilitating strategic planning meetings is easy when you don’t know what you’re doing and exceedingly difficult when you do. Resist the temptation to do it yourself.
For more keys to getting started with your organization’s strategic planning process, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.