I am preparing to facilitate strategic planning meetings for an association, a medium-sized technology company, and a Fortune 100 client.
Here are a few things I see as foundational for creating an effective strategic plan.
- The key to a successful strategic plan is FOCUS. Regardless of size, every company has limited resources. Strategy is about effectively deploying an organization’s resources where they will have the most leverage in the marketplace.
- One of the most important things a great strategic thinker does is figure out what to say “NO” to. What markets will we not compete in? What products or services should we not try to sell? What current projects should we abandon?
- If you have ten strategic objectives, you don’t have a strategy. All the successful companies I’ve worked with were able to focus on 3 to 5 major strategic initiatives. Anything more than that causes a lack of focus and, ultimately, a lack of success.
- When examining business issues, are you trying to solve a puzzle or a mystery? With enough data and information, you can find the correct answer to a puzzle. But no matter how hard you try, finding the exact solution to a mystery is impossible. A large part of the strategy is simply an educated guess about what might happen in the future.
- Alignment is critical. The plan will succeed if the senior team is 100% committed to the organization’s strategic direction.
- It’s an age-old business cliché because it is correct: What gets measured gets done. Many strategies are ineffective because expectations have not been clearly communicated. Ambiguity Breeds Mediocrity.
- Review the strategy and your progress often. Create a cadence of meetings to make sure that you stay on track. Monthly at a minimum.
- Only change the strategy if the market demands it. Chasing every shiny red ball creates confusion and destroys focus and momentum.
- Overcommunicate the vision, mission, and strategy. When you think you have talked about it far too much, people are just starting to hear you.
Those are just a handful of the key ideas I try to help my clients keep in mind as we move through a strategic planning retreat.
Please visit my site at https://johnspence.com/contact/ if you want to get in contact with me. I’d love to hear from you.