Strategic Planning often evokes images of large corporate structures, endless meetings, and reams of documentation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A strategic plan can be a very simple, living document, created for a company ranging from a few employees, to 200 or more. A good plan should reflect the make-up of your company and how fast or slow you want to go.
What is a Strategic Plan?
According to Wikipedia (wikipedia.com), strategic planning is “an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy.”
Your vision statement should be written to inspire and lead your employees into the future with a specific, vivid description of where you see the organization going in the next three, five, even 20 years.
The first step in a good strategic plan involves making sure your proposed strategy aligns with who you are, why you exist, and who you want to become. Your strategic plan is not to be confused with a business plan, which is often created to satisfy a banker or investor. Your business plan also helps you ensure your company is structured to reach your goals, and your revenue model can return the profits you need to sustain and grow your business going forward.
To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Strategic planning helps you create a road map to help you get to where you want to be.
Start with Your Mission
First, clearly define your mission and vision. Even if you’ve already done this in the past, it’s a good time to make sure they are still aligned with your company today. Start by listing all the things that matter to you, and why you started, or took over the leadership of the company to begin with. Make it as long as you like. Then, consolidate your thoughts once you’ve gotten them all out. Answer the following questions to help you define your mission statement:
• Who are you as a company?
• What do you stand for?
• What business are you in?
• What makes you different in your marketplace?
• Why would customers would want to give you their hard-earned money?
• What are your goals for the future?
Focus on Your Vision
Your vision statement should be written to inspire and lead your employees into the future with a specific, vivid description of where you see the organization going in the next three, five, even 20 years. Paint a clear picture of what you’ll look like as you and your team grow together. One process that works well is defining your vision in terms of SMART goals:
Armed with a clear mission and vision, the strategic planning process becomes much simpler, and easier to implement.
You can involve your management team or your entire company in helping to define your mission and vision. But remember, as the leader of the company, you have to own it, so you have to believe in it 100%.
Begin Your Strategic Planning
Armed with a clear mission and vision, the strategic planning process becomes much simpler, and easier to implement. At NCI we use something called the WIG (Wildly Important Goal) process as a key element for our strategic planning.
Your mission and vision will help you determine what your WIGs will be for next year. For example, if you want to grow maintenance agreements to 3,000 in five years, and you currently have 300, it would be unrealistic to shoot for 3,000 by the end of next year. So first you must define the goal in measurable terms. “Grow our Maintenance Agreement base from 300 to 600 agreements by December 2016,” is a more reasonable WIG.
Once you’ve clearly identified your WIGS for 2016, the next step is to develop a strategy and timeline to achieve each one. Each WIG should include the answer to the question, “From X to Y by When?” In the example above, “X” is the current state, i.e. 300 agreements, “Y” is the future desired state: 600 agreements, and “When” is the desired date to achieve the goal, December 31, 2016.
The next step is identifying all the things you “could” do to achieve the specific goal, and rank the actions in terms of having the greatest potential impact, while still feasible and cost effective for your organization.
Of course there are additional steps in the process and implementation of your plan. Feel free to contact me or NCI’s business coaches with any questions, and for a list of recommended reading on this important topic.
Dominick Guarino is CEO of National Comfort Institute (NCI), (nationalcomfortinstitute.com), one of the nation’s premier Performance-BasedTM training, certification, and membership organization, focused on helping contractors grow and become more profitable. His e-mail is [email protected]. For more info on Performance-Based ContractingTM go to WhyPBC.com or call NCI at 800/633-7058.