It has been said, “We’d better pay attention to the future because that’s where we are going to spend the rest of our lives.”
Success in any business is a clear picture of where the business is going and even though there is technically no “end,” What will the end result look like? The propensity of most management teams right now is to focus on the present, to put out fires, and manage by crisis. With all of the changes in the business environment of the last 24 months, that propensity is understandable; however, crisis management doesn’t prepare your organization for future growth and opportunity. Planning your business’s future is no longer a discretionary decision. If you want to control the destiny of your business then you need to create it!
“The Best Way to Predict the Future is Create It” ~ Peter Drucker
The preparation of a strategic plan is a multi-step process encompassing vision, mission, objectives, values, goals, and specific action steps. The process we use successfully with clients can be boiled down into these stages:
Stage 1. Visioning
A company’s vision is a statement of potential. A vision statement is a description of what your organization wants to become.
Stage 2. Strategic Thinking and Planning
The term strategic thinking can be defined as the process that determines the future direction of the organization. This process addresses all aspects of your business and its resources. Its foundation is a strategic thinking process and its conclusion is a logical and well thought out plan that when implemented will ensure the organization’s success.
Stage 3. Business Planning
Business planning is the process that actualizes the strategic plan. During the business planning process, your mission is crystallized into specific goal categories. These categories then become actionable through goals and actions steps. If there are multiple departments each will have a mission and business plan which is their contribution to the organization’s mission. The progressive achievement of the mission or all of the departmental missions will propel the entire organization toward the realization of its vision.
Stage 4. Implementing the Plan
The real key to the success of this process is action. Vision alone does not ensure success. Even the most comprehensive plan will not ensure success without action steps and measurement. Without action steps, time frames, and accountability the process is just a mental exercise that, while it may be stimulating is meaningless or a waste of time and energy.
Stage 5. Review and Continuous Improvement
Without measurement, it is difficult to see progress, and it is impossible to manage a business. Creating a dashboard for the communication of goals and objectives is critical for measurement. Everything relies on execution. Success requires continued learning and improvement. There is always something you can do to gain control over any situation. There is always something we can learn to become better!
Take a moment and be honest. Do you have an actionable strategic plan for your business? Do you know where you want to take your business one year from now, five years from now? Do you want to learn how to better manage the inevitable fires while focusing on growth opportunities? Make the commitment with your management team to develop a strategic plan now as your future results depend on it!