2020 is fast approaching and you should be well into your strategy planning by now. If you are not do not panic, you still have time, but you need to act now. Strategy planning is a key tool to help grow your business, lead people and achieve more together as a unified business. Doing it well will empower your organization, doing it poorly will be deeply demotivating and not doing it at all will invite chaos to take hold to drive culture.
Why Strategy Plan
At Purple Falcon Partners we take strategic planning very seriously, for us and our clients. We think it is a critical component of growing a strong and healthy business. Unfortunately, many clients we first work with feel that strategic planning is just a budgeting exercise. There is truth in that because part of strategic planning is budgeting, but that is just 1 part.
- Budget Planning
A good plan will define operating budgets for the next fiscal year. Whenever possible you want to shift risks and costs to 3rd parties, protected with strong contracts. This is usually achievable for non-core operations. Such as HR, Finance, IT, Marketing, etc. You have to determine what makes sense for your business and industry.
For IT services we provide fixed IT managed services per employee. This helps you know exactly how much IT will cost you for each employee you hire. That makes budgeting a breeze and shifts IT support risks from you to us.
- Defining Value
Understanding the value you bring to stakeholders is an important and usually overlooked aspect of strategic planning. To clarify that statement, most leaders know that stakeholders are those they report too. A VP, C-Level, Board, Investors, etc. It is important to define the value you will achieve in the next year and tie that into the budget planning. However, stakeholders are also the employees that will execute and work under the strategic plan. It is very important that a strategic plan exists at multiple levels to define the targetted value for the next year. That is not always financial, it can be social good, culture change, lifestyle improvements, etc.
- Inspirational Model
This part can (and should) tie into the defining value section. A great strategic plan inspires those that read or are part of it. This is so vitally important because you typically need those that are part of the plan to execute it. To achieve inspiration the plan needs to align everyone to a common goal that supports company values and culture. This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of strategic planning to achieve with any degree of success.
Where to start & how to finish
As a leader, there are three processes you should go through. This helps you keep everyone aligned while maintaining your long term vision. That is an important aspect to keep a focus on, you need to have a vision of the path forward but be ready to bend in the wind as you go through the process. If you just dictate the strategy to people you break the third part of strategic planning because that is not inspirational.
- Create your high-level strategic plan. If it was just you what would you create?
- Set aside #1 and begin ground-up strategic brainstorming sessions with various groups at all levels. This is a PERFECT time to mix senior leadership with front-line workers. Brainstorming is much more effective.
- Follow those brainstorming sessions with more focused strategic guidance sessions. These are to validate what was developed in step #2 and you usually do not mix leadership levels with this. That is because sensitive discussions are needed now
The results of that work should lead to a finalized strategic plan. It is important to weave in as many aspects of what was brought up in #2 as possible. At least the most important to people. In regards to step #1, that step is not a waste. It helps you keep perspective and focus for steps #2 and #3. As a leader, your goal is to ensure the strategic plan is realistic, achievable and on a path that makes sense. Think of it as a dartboard. Your strategic plan is the bulls-eye, as long as after step #3 you hit the board that is a positive result.
Be Prepared to toss it all out the window
One big mistake we see frequently is creating a strategy plan that is written in stone. Every great plan will never survive once it meets the battle firsthand. The problem is that plans are theories based on conjecture, hope, estimations, etc. But that is fine! The goal of the strategy plan is not to necessarily achieve exactly what you are setting forth. The goal of the strategy plan is to inspire others and set a high bar for success. Telling your company you will achieve 1% more sales or profitability is easy. Setting the bar (within reason) high like 12% will inspire others to achieve it, as long as you explain how. Throughout the year provide updates and encourage the business even if you do not meet the goal. Show progress and improvement so people can see every day you are doing better. That is the inspirational part of strategic planning and really it is the most important piece.
We provide free strategic planning and coaching included free (yes no extra cost) with our IT Managed Services. Not your typical IT Consultant we go the extra mile to ensure your company is successful. Technology plays a huge part in strategic planning. Both in the facilitation and also the future success of achieving goals. We can manage all your IT managed services while also being a great partner with your future success.