By Cheryl Higley
Every company needs a compass to get to where it strives to be. But without the right coordinates (and if you don't stop to ask for directions), you are bound to wander, never quite reaching the destination.
Strategic planning can point you in the right direction. Here is some information from SIMA CEO Martin Tirado and Pro-Motion Consulting owner Phil Harwood on the key points in developing and executing a successful plan:
Don't overthink. Strategy doesn't need to be complicated. Harwood says the first step needs to be to identify your company's vision. What do you want to be? Tirado says it is key to identify where you are in the marketplace and to identify challenges as well as growth opportunities to give you a foundation for your strategy.
Commit to the effort. It's easy to get involved with the daily operations of a business and lose track of strategic long- and short-term goals. "Really focus on the process. Become good at how to create it, implement it and follow through on it," Harwood says.
Communicate the plan. Owners can't keep their vision in their head. It must be written down and communicated. "People get frustrated because they don’t know what the plan is. They’re just punching the clock and doing the best they can, and there is no motivation for anything bigger than that. Take the time to get it out of the owner’s head, put it on paper and execute it," Harwood says.
Not a one-and-done exercise. Strategic plans will fail if they are not continuously evaluated. "Be flexible and open to change," Tirado says.
Engage your stakeholders. As you build your strategy, it's important to get input and feedback from employees, clients and suppliers. "Get a diverse group of people involved and get as much data as you can on where you are and how they can help you get where you want to be," Tirado says.
Look beyond your company. Harwood says the biggest challenge is that the world is rapidly changing and owners can't be so singularly focused on the company that they don't take account and adjust for outside forces. "It is important to know what’s going on around us. As leaders, we need to be aware of what’s happening in the political and economic world."
Be accountable. A key piece to the strategic plan is holding everyone involved accountable in its implementation. Harwood suggests blocking scheduled time to revisit and recalculate strategy, both with a quick weekly review and a more in-depth look every 90 days. "Block it out and make sure everyone knows." Tirado says delegating responsibility and giving people specific outcomes to work toward and report on helps with that accountability.
Learn from the failures. "Know there will be challenges and that you may fail in your attempt to implement your strategy. That’s OK. Those lessons can be very powerful for your business."
Cheryl Higley is editor of Snow Business magazine.