A sound strategy should produce sustainable and growing revenue. You have great execution when you have drama-free processes and industry-leading profitability.
This type of strategic planning separates strategic thinking from execution planning. Too often we do capture where we want to go, but we overlook clearly stating what needs to be done by when and by whom. Execution is often overlooked or placed on the back-burner.
We suggest you start by breaking your strategic planning into bite-size pieces. Think first (strategic thinking 12+ months and longer), then execute (execution planning) — 12-month priorities broken into 4 quarters with key performance indicators. So often leaders come up with great ideas but fail to close the loop with clear execution plans.
Strategic thinking allows you to deliberate beyond your current daily action items or knee jerk reactions. Where do you want to be in 18 months, 3 years, and 10 years? Execution planning builds on that vision and allows you to focus on your 90-day "rocks" – those big, highly essential priorities that must be accomplished in the current quarter. When you combine these two components – you are well on your way to effective strategic planning.
Ready to get started? Let's incorporate 7 items that launch your strategic planning into the stratosphere.
1. Form your strategic circle or council, if you will, of 3-5 people.
Start by committing to weekly meetings. Spend 1.5 - 2.0 hours together exploring trends and creating ideas around your future direction. Think innovatively. These ideation-only discussions are for learning and formulating. The tactics come later. Strategic councils give you opportunities to see and hear from your leadership circle in ways you just can't on a day to day basis.
2. Build the right team.
Involve at least one outside industry expert on your strategic council, and select internal leaders that fit your outlined criteria.
Don't know how to build your criteria?
Pick those who are visionaries.
Pick those who are passionate about the future.
Pick those who challenge the status quo and value change.
3. Think longer term.
Begin to create a 3-year plan that includes critical financial targets.
That plan should generate 12 months rolling-quarter milestones. Use those milestones to keep you on track. Build them into KPI's and other internal employee assessments.
Create a 10-year inspirational and measurable goal that gets you and your employees excited. Do you want to give bonuses, stock options, a dream conference based on these goals?
4. Put it in writing.
Your plan should be written in an easy to read one-page format.
Think 6th-grade format. No, your employees aren't dumb – but digging through a large planning document isn't high on their priority lists.
Post it throughout the organization.
Every employee should understand how their role fits into and ultimately contributes to the plan. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be a dynamic and ongoing process.
5. Be sticklers on the execution of your plan.
Don't worry about employees getting sick of your plan. Too many great strategies fall by the wayside due to unwanted feedback.
All your documentation, meetings, and internal communications should reiterate the 3-5 initiatives that live within your 12-month plan, along with your "Critical Number" for your most crucial yearly initiative.
These initiatives become your internal language.
6. Conduct quarterly meetings that drive accountability towards the achievement of quarterly "Rocks."
Break your 12-month strategy down in quarters.
Engage everyone in the wins and losses.
When we don't share with our employees, we create a "they/we" mentality that defeats the purpose.
When an employee completes their rocks – we celebrate.
When the company hits theirs, we celebrate bigger.
It's a joint effort, and it's joint accountability that works.
All employees should know their 90-day rocks and be able to answer whether they accomplished them or not.
7. Consider hiring an outsider to facilitate your strategic planning meetings.
When an internal leader facilitates, they become caught up in the process of facilitating and not as engaged in innovation and thinking "future." An outside facilitator takes off the pressure. There is a cycle that can happen within an organization that leads to "if we do this –we create more work." The right executive coach can facilitate, create tasks, and lead accountability efforts.
If you know the coach returns in 13 weeks – you tend to accomplish more.
Ultimately, this allows your team to learn and use a repeatable process for consistency and effectiveness. One that you can use well into the future.
So, take this all into consideration, but know that effective strategic planning is a habit that happens weekly; it's not a one-time event.
Why not get a taste of what a clear long term vision combined with a great plan of execution can do for your organization? Schedule your FREE discovery call below.
When I reflect on this quote,
I start my day with the right intentions.
In business, this can be quite impactful.
"Don't ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise."
Fred Smith, the former CEO of FedEx, said business is two words. Process and Promise.
When it comes to leadership coaching, we call these brand promises. These are the compelling reasons that customers buy from you and not your competition. They are what makes you different. For most of us, that means addressing the most significant need your customer has and doing it better than anyone else.
You are probably familiar with some of these.
Figuring out your brand promise is a process and not a stagnant one. In today's technology-based world, our competition evolves at breakneck speed. That requires us to maintain a differential that means something to our clients. The exciting thing is that your brand promise may remain steeped in old school processes. Maybe you are service focused. Maybe a real person still answers the phone. That's up to you to figure out.
I suggest you start by asking yourself and your team four key questions:
Once you have them figured out, keeping your promises is not easy. Just imagine what that takes at McDonald's to make sure franchise owners across the world deliver these promises via 36,000 restaurants to serve 69 million customers a day.
Let's face it, any business can make a promise, but you need to be able to deliver upon them. That means having a process for fulfillment. Execution is key. These types of brand promises have quantitative definers so that they can be measured. With the right measures, you will know if you are delivering on your commitments daily.
With a documented process, promises are measured, improved, and taught. At my last place of employment, being ISO certified was one of our drivers. We were audited to make sure we followed our processes, and if the process changed, our documentation indicated the revision, and we had to re-train employees.
While this type of process is hard work, it drives consistency and excellence. This type of operation means that a Quarter Pounder with cheese will always taste the same to me regardless of whether I'm at my hometown McDonald's, or in a neighboring state.
Additionally, everyone in your organization should know your brand promises and these measurements, from the newest employee to your next retiree.
The right brand promises have a cost when you don't keep them. That is because they mean something. You risk disappointing customers and losing them if you don't keep them. If they don't come with a risk, they are probably not meaningful.
While it is easy to make promises but hard to keep them; I also know a lot of people and organizations that can't recite their brand promises when asked.
I encourage you to start with the four questions above and make today the day that you focus your work on the answers.