An effective strategic plan is crucial for any organisation, whether it is a mental concept or a well-documented plan. Putting these ideas into writing allows refinement and improvement, especially when the organisation expands, and more people get involved.
Documenting strategic plans benefits the team by enabling them to contribute, identify opportunities, and overcome obstacles, giving strategic thinking a competitive advantage and serving as a secret weapon for scaling your business.
However, some leaders may face various challenges regarding strategic planning, such as a lack of time, feeling overwhelmed, unfamiliarity with proven processes, and a preference for taking action over planning.
These challenges can be difficult to overcome, especially when time is scarce.
To ensure scalable growth, it’s sometimes necessary to slow down and focus on developing a strategic plan and implementing a process to support and maintain your action plan throughout the year.
This article explains the first steps you need to take to make a complete assessment of your business right now and helps you understand the importance of creating and maintaining an updated strategic plan in your organisation.
What is the value of implementing a strategic planning process?
Have you ever felt like running a business is like playing whack-a-mole, where one problem arises after another?
Implementing a strategic planning process can provide you with a framework to manage future problems and identify opportunities.
It may seem like a diversion, but having an active strategic plan in your organisation can help you accomplish tasks more efficiently.
Although developing and integrating your strategic plan requires time and effort, a well-designed process allows for continuous refinement.
You can make future decisions more quickly and efficiently by leveraging data and metrics alongside your strategic plan.
Ultimately, a robust strategic planning process can help you replicate this exercise more easily in the years to come.
Take the full Scaling Up Assessment to uncover valuable insights, identify growth opportunities, understand where your business is at the moment, and how to propel your organisation forward and upward.
What does a Strategic Plan & Process comprehend?
A strategic plan is absolutely essential for business success. Without a clearly defined plan, achieving your desired outcome might look very distant.
Formalising a plan based on the foundational elements of your strategy – including your vision, mission, values, and purpose – is crucial in aligning all stakeholders towards a shared goal.
In addition, this plan promotes long-term thinking about the company, which leads to more efficient decision-making in the short term.
To formulate a strategic plan, it’s important to:
- Identify the problem your business solves.
- Define your purpose or mission statement.
- Establish your strategic objectives or BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
- Identify your core customer.
- Define the core values of your company.
- Determine what sets you apart from competitors.
The strategic plan serves as a guide for executing strategies, including resource allocation, process alignment, effective communication, establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and reinforcing a common understanding among all stakeholders.
It ensures everyone is working towards the same objectives by setting organisational goals or priorities for each person involved.
Avoid Getting Stuck: Starting, Adapting, and Achieving Goals
Three crucial aspects tend to hold us down when we try to implement new methodologies.
You might believe you don’t have to do it now and are waiting for some signal to get you started. You might think it is a simple, one-time document you can draft and forget, or you might even have the idea that it will be an easy task to get done.
First off, there is no perfect timing. Developing a strategic plan and process for your business can no longer be delayed. Waiting only increases the risk of encountering problems caused by changes in the business environment and external factors.
Another aspect is that you should continuously review your plan and process to achieve success without waiting for a new year or cycle. It must be an adaptable, living document in your organisation. This requires an approach that connects it to strategy execution and includes regular updates.
And finally, stop wasting time thinking without taking action. Establish a connection between your strategic plan and your organisation’s daily, weekly, and monthly activities.
By breaking big, long-term goals into manageable pieces that you can address in the short term, your team can consistently work towards your objectives, leading to frequent, motivating successes resulting from your plan.
What should you prepare for?
Scaling Up Coach Steve Ferman advises that business success is achieved through steady progress rather than a quick sprint.
It usually takes 24 to 36 months to effectively transform a large company and steer it towards becoming a unified entity.
During this timeframe, it’s important to note that planning is not the only focus. Steve highlights that it’s equally important to implement your strategy and integrate it into operational planning.
To keep everyone in the organisation informed and aligned with the same objectives, Steve recommends establishing a “war board” or main scoreboard. This ensures that everyone is working in harmony towards the same end goal.
Analyse and identify your current problems
It’s important to conduct diagnostics and determine the organisation’s mission and goals to start formulating a strategy.
Scaling Up coach Chris Young believes building a solid team is crucial for success.
By focusing on the team’s dynamics and cohesiveness, you can identify growth opportunities, uncover weak spots, and address strategic issues such as communication gaps and a lack of vulnerability-based trust.
While some may initially expect a simple strategic plan, Chris emphasises the importance of assessing the organisation’s direction, aligning it with the founder’s and leadership’s vision, and evaluating the team’s capacity to embrace the mission, vision, and values. Understanding individual responsibilities and abilities is also essential.
Establish Alignment within the Top Team
Effective team communication is critical for successful collaboration and achieving common goals. Without alignment at the top levels of an organisation, problems can arise. Prioritising and improving these areas is essential before creating strategies or planning documents.
Implementing the Scaling Up methodology can be complex. In a real-life anonymous example shared by Chris, a company faced a sales decline due to a breakdown in communication among executives.
To solve the issue, the primary focus shifted to improving these aspects within the executive team.
Diagnostic tools identified disagreements, and efforts were directed towards resolving sales challenges and underlying issues with core values and alignment.
Implementing alignment throughout the organisation, particularly within the C-suite, is vital for scaling a company successfully. Encouraging open and honest conversations is the secret to achieving successful growth.
Awareness of what others are doing, what their roles are, or even if those roles are being fulfilled is often lacking, especially in larger organisations.
Crafting Your Plan
To begin the strategic planning process, you must complete diagnostics and align your executive team. Two key components will guide your strategy: establishing your Core Values and defining your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
Your BHAG is a long-term vision for accomplishing significant achievements in the next 10-15 years. By breaking it down into shorter-term goals for five years, one year, and the next 90 days, you can create a stepwise approach to a plan that is both ambitious and achievable.
Your core values provide a framework for decision-making and shape the culture within your team. They become guiding principles that align actions, behaviours, and choices with your organisation’s fundamental beliefs.
How Does a Scaling Up Coach Fit Into This Scenario?
Getting the assistance of a Scaling Up coach can significantly motivate you while developing your strategic plan. They can provide valuable guidance and have firsthand experience building a successful business through a proven process and methodology as an entrepreneur or leader.
One of the great benefits of having a coach is that they can offer an unbiased and open-minded view of your business. They are not as emotionally involved in your daily operations as your staff might be and can push you towards succeeding in your goals by challenging your thinking and mindset.
A Scaling Up coach will work with you and your team to ensure there is alignment in core values and company culture. They can act as an external agent pushing the strategy with a fresh perspective and offering solutions to emerging problems.
However, for a coach to be effective, they need to establish trust within your organisation. This will allow them to guide you towards the right path and give you direction to do the hard work that is necessary for scaling and growth.
A Scaling Up coach is capable to detect what are the core issues keeping your business stuck and can provide you with the tools to implement your strategic plan effectively.
Are you determined to take your strategic planning to the next level?
If you want some specialised guidance, Book a FREE Discovery call with Glenn Marvin, Connect The Dots Founder and Scaling Up Certified coach with over 17 years of experience, and find out how you can drive success and growth for your business in the near future.