There are many reasons why a company should have a Strategic Plan in place, and probably infinitely more excuses why companies don't. For those of you who don't, here's the chance to get off your mental backside and begin putting one in place. We are going to take a journey over the next few months and work through the why's and how's of getting a plan in place.
To begin, a Strategic Plan is really not the optimum starting place. To formulate one correctly, input from one or more sources should have already been completed. Download the Business Improvement Roadmap to gain a better understanding of where the Strategic Plan fits into the process. Minimally, one should do a SWOT (Strength's, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis before entering into planning strategically. The other input information could come from Focus Groups, PEST Analysis, or a Market Analysis. The more information that is gathered prior to beginning, the more complete the plan will be.
The most important task prior to beginning, is to select the people in your organization that will be involved. Smaller companies may choose to have all employees and stakeholders involved, while larger companies may opt for executive and middle management. You must look at your particular circumstance and decide what level of non-billable time can be afforded. I can tell you from experience that implementation and tracking of the plan improves exponentially when people have felt to be part of the process. I generally say “figure out who you must include, and then determine who else you can include".
I should probably state at this time that having an outside facilitator help you work the process is invaluable. Now I admit that I am biased because this is how I make my living. Yet, with that said, having a person who is not a stakeholder in your operation (employee, management, or board member), who can view your process without prejudice, can help bring about open and honest communication without the threat of reprisal. Too many of these sessions fail because people are afraid to speak their mind. Personally, I will not commit to facilitate any group where I cannot receive assurance that a culture of ‘no silent disbelief’ will be enforced. By that I mean, the group can speak freely and anyone who disagrees may voice it in the meeting without retribution. On the same token though, they cannot disagree and not say anything and then voice their opinions outside the meeting. Once consensus is achieved from the group, it is expected that everyone involved will promote the group decision even if they disagree. Tough, but absolutely necessary to success.
In the next installment - we'll discuss the Brainstorming Methodology
John W. Wright III
Mountain Skies Business Consulting
20/20 Vision in a Bifocal World