There are great businesses out there, with passionate business owners, working really hard to make things work but have no business plan or clear strategy in place. Passion is an important ingredient as it creates customer centric businesses that make money by meeting customers wants and need. This is the talisman of many successful brands. However, like all good things, too much can leave you feeling gorged.
In the case of business this is reflective of time poor, exhausted and over relied upon leaders. For many, it starts with the fear of turning business opportunities down in the early stages of growth. This becomes a habit and leads to focusing on the ‘doing’ without thinking about how each action connects to the bigger picture. Busy fools in its extreme, all be it, motivated by honest, honourable intentions.
The Myths and Misconceptions of Strategic Planning
A common belief is that planning is an inefficient use to time and resources. This is backed by the assumption that thinking strategically takes time and that a strategic plan is a one off document that is placed on the shelf once complete, both myths and misconceptions. The truth is that businesses are making strategic decisions every day by deciding what they sell, to whom and how. However, without making a conscious decision to ‘do strategy’, the numerous daily choices businesses make generally have no coherence to them. This leads to inefficiencies and a disconnect across business units which creates long-term organisational dysfunction.
To stop this cycle, the perception of time needs to be challenged as does the belief that a strategic plan is a document to file away.
If the best use of time is about producing the highest possible result for the effort invested, it is essential to understand the value of, and have a clear purpose for, the actions we take. Like in chess, to be good, you must know what your next move is going to be before you make a play. To be great, you have to know the next three moves, while taking into account, and being flexible to what your opponent does along the way.
Run your Business Like a Game of Chess
Carrying forward the chess analogy, it is possible to plan ahead and stay flexible to changing circumstances. In fact, it is a prerequisite of greatness in the game. Those who have effective strategic plans understand that they must be dynamic, co-developed documents that guide and are guided by daily business operations. I would add to this that the most valuable are those that are short, simple and creatively designed by leadership teams who represent all areas of the business.
Good strategic plans can be done on a page, and should be shared with everyone who has a vested interest in the company, including its employees. Starting with one for the business as a whole, followed by one per business unit, and reviewed as often as you review your financial targets.
Image from novamind.com
Author: Dayna Cacares
- Strategic Planning for Positive Change (marjoriemunroe.com)
- The Definition of Strategic Planning (deshaunadennis.com)
- Nonprofit Strategic Planning (nonprofitboardcrisis.typepad.com)