Recently Bill Dann was interviewed by the Alaska Dispatch for their annual Innovator magazine. We thought the following question and answer were particularly appropriate as we prepare here at PGS to complete our own strategic plan next week. Looking toward the fall and winter season, we know many of our regular readers’ organizations are beginning to create their next year’s strategic plan as well, so hope you pick up some information you can use in the following.
The question Bill was asked: “What are five key elements that every small business owner needs to address in their strategic plan?”
- First, leadership must define the organization’s core ideology (purpose, vision, values), assuring that it is clear and compelling for those they expect to execute. If not compelling to the staff, your work as leaders is not done.
- Second, define an effective strategic agenda that (a) will differentiate you from your competitors in the minds of the customers and is based on solving customer problems, and (b) will address priority opportunities to improve your execution/performance. In other words, the strategic agenda should consist of two types of projects, those that grow the organization and advance its competitive position, and those that fix internal challenges which are inhibiting the organization’s growth.
- Third, for each project in your strategic agenda, develop a tight project plan that has a clear target for the end of the project, a clear set of outcomes or tasks that will get you to the target, assigned accountability for each outcome or task, and a measure that will tell you whether your strategy in designing that project was/is successful.
- Fourth, after the plan is in place, manage accountability hard. Create a culture of results rather than one of reasons why results didn’t happen.
- Fifth, make the plan and progress/problems available to all the staff, not just the leadership assigned accountability for it. This has the twofold purpose of enabling celebration of successes, which strengthens the organizational culture, and also of putting added pressure on those who have not produced results on their outcomes to get to work.
Whenever you next dive into your next strategic planning sessions, keep these five key pieces in your back pocket and make sure you have them covered. If you run into questions or challenges, let us know, and we can step you through some solutions.