Five Essentials of any Strategic ‘Plan’
Thinking about doing a strategic plan? Dreading the whole idea of it? Rather have a root canal? Here are five tips to help make this as painless as possible:
1. Get On With It.
Developing a strategic plan does not have to be a herculean effort. There are lots of great strategic planning models out there. Find one you like. Scale it to your business (small businesses don’t need elaborate plans) and what you feel would work best for you and your organization.
2. Ask everyone for their opinion.
The more input you have the more likely you are to accomplish two things – get the strategy right and have the legs needed to move it forward. Ask them what you’re doing well, what you’re not, what they see as opportunities for your business and listen to their cautions.
Hold focus groups, conduct surveys, or simply talk to people. Don’t be afraid to ask customers, stakeholders, clients, the public - they tend to know what you’re doing right and what you’re not – so ask. Figure out a way to involve them in your planning and you will be surprised with how much they know and are willing to tell you! Take their opinions, match it with your own data and develop a small number of ‘must do’s.
3. Don’t take forever.
Strategic plans can be out of date before the ink dries – not because the world is changing so quickly (although it is), but because it can take a long time to put a strategy in place, especially if you let it. Adopt a timeline for each step, thinking through what it will take - and stick to it.
4. Stop calling it a plan.
A plan is just a plan. The only strategies that work are those that are executed. There’s a place for glossy plans, but don’t fool yourself – glossy doesn’t equal action. If you think you’re done when the strategy is written down, the only plan you have is a plan to fail!
5. Execute or die.
Start thinking about how you’ll execute your plan before you start, ideally when you’re choosing the planning model you’ll use. Make sure you know who is doing what by when. Then just do it, measure it, and never, ever stop talking about it!
Strategic planning does not need to be a complicated, unpleasant experience. With these five steps in mind, it can be fun, exhilarating and amazingly illuminating.