Before we get started, we must share one caveat – there is no shortcutting a purposeful strategic planning process.
Any strategy that will make a significant difference to your business will take time, focus, and sometimes a little bit of luck.
In our experience, there are some critical factors in the success of any strategic planning process that will increase your chances of success that can be applied from a sole trader to a global corporate.
These 7 Strategic Planning Hot Tips are by no means all the factors that will drive the outcome you want, but they are the ones we believe you need to focus on, so here goes:
Successful strategy is simple.
This is my number one tip for your strategic planning process. You may be trying to solve something complex, but you must look at how simple you can make the solution. Even if there are 1000’s moving parts, simplicity will prevail.
How? Pattern recognition. There will be patterns in all of the challenges you observe that will come down to a few elements; product, service, people or cash.
All strategy will lead back to one or a combination of them. The sooner you get to the core issue, the sooner you can solve it.
Don’t try and do it all at once.
This is a killer; trying to do too many things, you risk achieving nothing. There is a discipline in only focusing on 3-5 things that will significantly change your business.
There will be business as usual elements, but they are like housekeeping. We are talking about the meaty actions that will take your time and energy, and you won’t always have all the answers, but when you do, you will be rewarded.
Get your people on board.
Don’t tell them what they will be doing; paint a picture of your vision and let them come along for the ride, take responsibility and own the outcomes. This is where the strategy and execution will gel. A plan without execution is just a dream.
The added benefit of this approach is that you will uncover more solutions and opportunities as you will have a group of minds look at them from different perspectives.
Strategic planning is a process, but so is strategic execution. Don’t be a slave to your plan. All plans should be able to adapt to the demands of the market and your business.
What’s worse than having no plan is sticking to the wrong plan. Apply the 80/20 rule – 80% of the plan should stay the same until complete; the other 20% is about agility and the ability to adapt – which in itself is a strategic advantage.
As I have said before, this is not business as usual; it’s about change. When you look at your strategic outcomes, make sure they will push you significantly forward; if you don’t feel a little nervous or the goals are easy to complete, you might not be trying hard enough.
You should be able to sense the outcome but not necessarily be able to do it right now; all strategic planning is about a future state. If you knew how to do it, it would have been done.
It’s effortless to write a plan; It’s easy to agree on how you will execute. But it’s not always wholly owned by those involved. Whoever is driving the strategic plan, should 100% have their name all over it, both literally and metaphorically.
There can be no doubt who owns what, when it is to happen and what the outcome should look like. As soon as blame steps in, trust is broken, and the goals are dead in the water.
Every person attached to the strategy plan MUST be clear on how they play their part, no matter how small.
If you suck at strategy, get help. 90% of businesses struggle because they are too close to the problem or the solution. Very few strategic plays are complex or a mystery; in fact, most are staring you right in the face; you just can’t see them. A strategic planning coach can shine a light on those solutions and guide you through the execution.
Your strategic planning process should consider where you are now, where you want to be and the steps and tools required to get there.
Your strategic plan doesn’t do the work; it is a roadmap that you follow to create the correct result. Plan then execute.