Is a Strategic Plan Really Necessary?
You’re making money, customers are buying your products or services and your employees seem happy? Do you really need a strategic plan? Isn’t strategic planning for big companies with lots of money and lots of employees? Or maybe for companies that are struggling? If things are going great, why mess with it?
Read the ten statements below, answer TRUE or FALSE, and we’ll chat at the end.
I know exactly what I want the business to look like 1 year, 3 years and 5 years from now.
- I don’t mean you want to be making more money, I mean –
- you have a clear picture of new product and service offerings
- you’ve identified new markets or new target clients for growth
- you have a plan for hiring and/or developing employees that can get you where you want to go
- you’re already putting together the production, service and technical infrastructure to support the new products and market
- you know how you’re going to finance your plans
When my leadership team meets, we talk regularly about long term plans.
- Current operational problems are extraordinarily demanding and will consume all your time. It’s good and right to talk about and solve them, but to borrow from Jim Collins, this is a perfect time for the “genius of the and”. To remain viable in the long-term, we must effectively manage the organization today AND successfully position it for tomorrow.
The employees in my organization share my passion for the business.
- You’re the boss, no one will care more than you – right? You might be surprised. Social scientists assure us that engaged, empowered employees will go far beyond just punching the clock. Clear, concise communication and commitment to an overarching purpose are the starting place.
I know where we are vulnerable to competition.
- A correct assessment of the competitive environment is much more than examining the companies that do the exact same thing you do for the exact same set of customers. It also involves examining companies that compete for the same disposable dollars. It involves surveying replacements for your good or service.
My employees know what success looks like in our business.
- This might seem apparent, but unless you’ve assembled an easy-to-understand scorecard with hard and soft metrics, employees with very narrow job responsibilities might not know if the enterprise at large is succeeding or failing.
If I was gone tomorrow, the business would continue to function.
- At the risk of sounding harsh, if the organization can’t run without you, you’ve built a cult, not a business. Skilled execution of a strategic plan will force you systematize the business, building it around principle instead of personality.
I have a steady stream of new clients coming into the business and they are the clients I want.
- New revenue streams, both from new products and from new customers are the lifeblood of any organization. But as organizations mature and are better able to identify and serve the customers to whom they deliver the greatest value surplus, they can narrow their focus. This focus allows them to build relationships with customers who are willing to not only grow the relationship, but also act as an advocate for the brand.
I have a process for identifying changes in the organization that would allow us to deliver our product better, faster or cheaper.
- The inward-looking part of a strategic planning exercise focuses on the component parts of the value creation process. How does the organization transform inputs into desirable outputs deriving the greatest amount of utility from the resources available? The strategic planning process is about challenging the status quo, asking probing questions about procurement, people, processes, money and more.
I have a reliable feedback mechanism for customer sentiment.
- Sam Walton observed that customers have the ability to fire everyone in the company from the CEO down. That being the case, it’s critical to understand their perception of your products, people and processes. A reliable feedback loop is the lifeline to these important stakeholders.
I have a plan of action to break and rebuild my business model to keep it fresh and safe from new, innovative entrants.
- If you’re making money and satisfying an important customer demand, there are competitors who would love to take those customers and their money away from you. If they can satisfy those demands better or more economically, your business is in jeopardy. With an existing business relationship, you have an enormous advantage. However, an unwillingness to innovate or even re-invent your business, product or service can be a shortcut to irrelevance.
If you answered FALSE to any of these, I believe you should very seriously contemplate a strategic planning exercise. It’s incredibly easy to cling to the status quo and not deliberately create and execute a plan to build a healthier organization going forward.
It’s incredibly easy to cling to the status quo and not deliberately create a plan to build a healthier organization going forward.
Convinced and ready to go or still have some questions? Either way is fine. Click here to schedule a free, no-obligation thirty-minute conversation with me. I look forward to learning about you and your business.