Strategic Planning: Now Is the Time
Does everyone on your team know all the plays?
It’s Fall. It’s football season. It’s fourth quarter. And for many companies it is the time for budgeting and strategic planning. Companies have both formal or informal processes for strategic planning and budget planning. Yet, few people get excited about the time spent in the planning process. Others love the opportunity to step away from daily routines to think about the big picture, goals, and future state.
Strategic Planning: Why Do It
2020 continues to throw us curve balls, both personally and professionally. Why sit down and plan when we don’t know what’s coming? Why do we have to spend time on planning, especially now?
I bet a few people have asked these questions.
There are many benefits to effective strategic planning. The short list includes:
- Clarity of goals,
- Alignment on the company mission,
- Focused team members,
- Improved daily decision making,
- Effective use of resources.
This year companies have made many changes to strategic plans and budgets to remain relevant and adapt to changing business environments. Now is the time to pause, reflect, and be creative to evaluate what is next and how to get there.
Your company may be doing fairly well. Your sales may be growing or flat. Many companies may have made significant changes to remain on track. I’ve seen many companies in reactionary mode to endure the last seven months. As everyone has been running fast and reacting to change, teams may have lost sight of the larger goals and objectives.With many focused on getting through todays jobs, orders, files, and exceptions, there seems to be little time left to reflect on the goals for the month, quarter, and year.
Now is the time to define a plan with goals and metrics that make sense. Take a step back to be clear about goals and expectations. Consider all areas — sales, marketing, types of new accounts, applications, profitability, costs, and new services.
There are many excellent books on defining and managing strategic goals. In an earlier blog, I wrote about the book Vivid Vision by Cameron Herold. His book defines a tool to align businesses around a shared vision of the future. His approach includes aligning the entire team around a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG). This approach enables the team to connect their daily tasks and decision to a future state they understand.
An excellent book to help you execute and manage your strategic plans is The Four Disciplines of Execution, Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. Keeping a clear focus on the wildly important goals drives daily priorities and decisions. This book has many concise business strategies for managing and measuring teams to achieve results. The discipline is based upon the principles of focus, leverage, engagement, and accountability. By driving teams to be accountable on a daily and weekly basis leads to better alignment and achievement of goals.
I am a reluctant football fan — often feeling like I am surrounded by true fans. Yet, I am always impressed by the discipline and commitment of NFL teams to plans for their weekly game. In contrast, I have seen a lack of discipline in annual strategic planning at many print service providers. This creates confusion about company goals and often resulting in sales teams managing their own goals while production and operations make decisions in silos and someone in finance carries a big stick.
Like the best NFL teams and quarterbacks we celebrate each week. Our success is the result of clear goals, defined mission, detailed planning, and metrics of each step in the process.
What is needed to be successful in 2021 will be different than what drove success in 2020. A clear and detailed strategic plan with metrics will enable your team to produce results.
And don’t forget the solid advice Alice in Wonderland received. If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.
What road will you take to reach your goals?
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 empowered sales teams to effectively win new business.