In the first few years as a business owner you are focused on growing your business as quickly as possible that you are totally immersed in the day to day operations. Once your business is established and you are ready to take it to the next level, a strategy plan becomes very important. As the old saying goes “failure to plan, is planning to fail”.
Your Strategic plan helps everyone in your organization stay on the same page. Here are our top 5 strategy plan tips for successful planning.
1. Set up the Right Atmosphere for Working on the Plan
Take your Management team to an offsite location for a day to work on your Strategic Plan without interruptions. If you arrange the meeting with a morning, lunch and afternoon break for your group to catch up on emails and phone calls, you will be able to keep them focused on your mission.
Set up the agenda in advance and email to participants asking them to bring their best ideas to the meeting.
The first two minutes of the strategy planning session sets the tone. You will develop a better plan if all participants engage. As founder your job is to create the engagement by creating a relaxing environment. Have an easel and large pad of paper ready for the brainstorming session.
2. Summarize the Business Results of the Last Two Years
Knowing where you have been, helps you plan your future. Share this information with your management team, highlighting the high and low points.
Are your sales broken down by segments for analysis? Are your profits on track? What is the feedback from your customers? How are your employees performing? The story behind your numbers helps everyone focus on what your business has achieved in the last two years.
Lead the discussion by asking your team questions about the results. What are they thinking?
3. Use the Team Feedback to Develop the Framework of your New Strategy
If you are getting great engagement in your strategy planning session, you are on the right track. As leader of the discussion you can direct the conversation to have productive results in the planning process.
- 5 year framework (general direction)
- 1 year actionable plan (specific strategy)
The benefit getting the management team involved in the planning process is they will own the plan. The danger of planning without input, is only YOU own the plan and your team may not be on board. Without a plan, every employee could be working on something completely different and your company loses direction.
4. Summarize the Plan Framework with your Team and Layout the Action Plan
Once your framework is developed, the next stage is summarize the key areas with action plans for each area. Every department needs to have a clear path of how they can impact the strategy you have outlined. Your role is to ensure everyone is clear as to the action required. Department heads can step up to develop the action plans for their own area. This helps you evaluate if everyone understands the plan.
Your strategic plan should not be a secret. Transparency will help all employees to be on the same page. Your department heads need to have their own sessions with their staff to break down the plan into department action plans.
One of the best ways to ensure engagement is to align your compensation plan to include a bonus plan based on achieving strategic plan goals. This ensures that the focus is on measurable objectives rather than subjective criteria that is hard to measure.
Your strategic plan is a living document, not one that is put in the drawer to gather dust. If you set up measurement tools to evaluate your plan progression, you can see how close you are to plan each month. Discuss the results with your management group at regular team meetings to keep everyone on track. If you need to adjust your strategy, you will have time to make changes before it is too late. At the end of year one, with results now available it’s time for a complete strategic plan review with your management team and time to plan for year two.
Do you have your own tips for successful strategy planning? We would love you to share them with us in the comments below.