Strategic Planning

Keep it Simple, Stupid !!!

In business, it’s not sufficient to just have a great idea, a great product or a great service and then hope that success will find its way to you. Successful businesses are built around a vision or a purpose. This is what drives people within the business to set out on a mission to achieve that purpose. Much like the old saying on how to eat an elephant (one bite at a time), the mission is much too large to digest all at once. It must be broken down into smaller pieces. That process is what strategic planning is all about although, for most hustle-bustle business people the thought of strategic planning is just as nauseating as the notion of eating an elephant. What we need is to eliminate the elephant paradigm. Strategic planning should be more like eating a pizza. But can it be that easy? Simply put: Yes, it can.

Why Strategic Planning?

Top companies know that strategic planning is critical to their competitive advantage and long-term success. All parts of the strategic planning process are essential, from data collection and pre-planning to action and implementation and lastly measurement and monitoring.

Start by Thinking Big

The importance of grasping your company’s big picture cannot be overstated. Start with the vision of your enterprise. This is a future-thinking concept of how you want the world to look. It may be emotive and should be long-term. A non-profit organization may have as its vision “a world without poverty,” for example. Part of GM’s corporate vision is to “lead the world in alternative fuel propulsion.” Steve Jobs once laid out his vision of “an Apple on every desk.” Does a vision have to be achievable? Not at all. It’s an ideal, but it should be one that motivates every member of the organisation to act in its direction.

Propose a Mission

With the vision in mind, a mission should be established. The mission is the company’s reason for being. It connects where the company is today with a vision for the future. It should also help employees connect with customers, suppliers and each other. The best mission statement is simple, direct and clear. Any employee should be able to recite it at any time. The idea is that everything each employee does, it does with the purpose of advancing the company toward its mission.

Set goals

Tony Robbins said, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Goals, sometimes called targets, are something that your business will focus on achieving. They should be quantifiable and attainable.

Examples of goals with objectives are:

• To increase our subscriber base by 50% over the next five years
• To increase our revenues by 20% per year over the next three years
• To improve our customer retention rate from 40% to 60% by the end of next year

Just as a pilot must file a flight plan before setting out for his destination, a business should have a clear set of goals that are expressed as part of a written strategic plan.

Perform a strategic issues scan

What is a strategic issues scan? It’s an analysis of issues, both internal and external to the organisation, that impact on your goals and how you will set objectives and tactics to achieve them. Strategic issues include social, political, environmental, economic and technological elements that could impact on your business.

Elements of the strategic issues can range from simple to complex. They could be just informal discussions focusing on the conditions existing within the company. Perhaps they could involve more formal, structured exercises. Or they could involve carrying out sophisticated analysis of the business environment and internal operating circumstances. The classic SWOT analysis (an assessment of external opportunities and threats as well as internal strengths and weaknesses) will summarise the results of the strategic issues, regardless of the complexity of your analysis.

Develop a Strategy

You now have a grasp of the situation at hand; your vision is clear, your mission is defined, your goals are set and your analysis of internal and external issues is completed. Now you have to figure out how you’re going to go about the strategy of achieving your goals with set objectives. The key in developing a strategy, in fact the key to successful strategic planning overall, is to be brutally honest and realistic in all facets of the process. What avenues are open to you for attaining the goals you’ve set? What kinds of actions and resources are required? Who does what, and when? Good strategic planning is an interactive process that may require re-assessing internal and external strategic issues information and adjusting goals and objectives accordingly. A strategic plan is a dynamic living document. When complete, the result is a clear, concise and workable blueprint for your business to follow in pursuit of its stated goals.

Above all – Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS)
Sometimes, people are overwhelmed by the seemingly complex nature of the strategic planning process.

The bottom line is to keep it simple, stupid !!!