Can you do it? As long as you make sure you address three important elements…
When people think of long term strategic plans, oftentimes they think of fairly complex and detailed outlines of possible directions for their organizations. To do something different is to disregard your future and to sacrifice your plan’s accuracy and validity. There’s also a great deal of history behind the long, detailed, tab-filled binder. Corporations and organizations have been doing them in earnest since the 1960’s. The longer the better, right?
Well, not necessarily. In the last decade everything has been compressed from a time perspective. I have written before about the tech world’s ability to disseminate information that previously was restricted to the upper levels of leadership. Now information is at everyone’s fingertips and organizations are able to speed up their reactions to market developments in a way that was not possible even 10 years ago. With that speed comes movement that isn’t as compatible with a detailed and lengthy process that could extend over several weeks or even months.
So how do you make sure that if you are entering into a planning process, you are doing something streamlined and responsive at the same time that it is driven by facts, real data and the right context? While not a sure thing, if you include three important elements in your planning process, you can come closer to writing a simplified plan that is also thorough. In addition to ensuring you address these three things, make sure that you can quantify, specify and verify. Make sure you quantify your goals. Make sure you specify who will be on the team to formulate and communicate these measurable goals. And finally, make sure you verify progress towards your goals.
Three Important Elements For a One-Page Strategic Plan
I – Examining the ‘next big thing’ and how you will respond.
What is happening now in your industry or business or people you serve that will upend the way you bring your product to market? Maybe it’s not the ‘next big thing’. Maybe it’s just the ‘next thing’. It doesn’t have to be big but it does have to have a real impact on you. This might be in the WFH trend. It might be in the new markets that have been created by needing things delivered. Ask yourself if you expand the trend, what will it do to your future? What will it do to your customers? What will it do to your suppliers? How will you respond in ways that can positively affect your future?
II – Focusing on your weakest link and making it a priority to improve it.
In many organizations one of the weakest areas and thus the area most in need of improvement is communications. Whether it is inter- or intra- departmental communication, many organizations have not established solid procedures that allow for the appropriate flow of information. Other common weak links include the ability to scale, the ability to establish repeatable processes or the ability to have a customer feedback mechanism. No matter what your weak link is, focus on making it better. Not perfect – better. This is especially important if your weakness affects your ability to respond to the ‘next big thing’.
III – Creating or sustaining a culture of getting everyone involved.
Some call this an engaged workforce. Whatever you want to call it, if you don’t communicate to and involve everyone in being a part of achieving your strategic goals, you won’t accomplish them - plain and simple. No one person can accomplish what a whole organization needs to get done. Back to the distributed power structure discussed in the opening paragraphs, get everyone’s talents, ideas and enthusiasm focused on the plan and its goals. You will have the greatest chance of success if you marshal all of your human capital.
One Page Strategic Plan
The following is a template for a one page, short term strategic plan. As much as possible ensure that your answers are able to be quantified, identified and verified. You can follow along below or download the template below.
What is the next (big) thing that is/will be happening to us and our customers? _____________________________________________________________________________
What do we absolutely have to improve? _____________________________________________________________________________
What is the end state once we make this improvement?
What is our strategic goal? _______________________________________________________________________
What is our timeline (when do we hope to accomplish our goal)?
Do you have the culture to chase and focus on this goal?
Who are our leaders who will develop and communicate our plan? _____________________________________________________________________________
What tools will they use to communicate our strategic goal and how will we report progress and updates? _____________________________________________________________________________
How will we engage everyone in the strategic plan? ______________________________________________________________________________
What will we measure to ensure our targets are being met? ______________________________________________________________________________
How will we shift our resources to ensure we are focused on achieving everything listed above?
How will people know that the strategic goal is achieved?