Bill Dann was interviewed recently and asked “What are five key elements that every small business owner needs to address in their strategic plan?”. We thought the question and Bill’s answers would be valuable to share with our blog readers. We know many of our regular readers are looking to add value to next year’s strategic plan, so we hope you pick up some information and tools you can use with the following.
- 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 the work of the organization. If not compelling to the staff, your work as leadership is not done.
- Second, define an effective strategic agenda that (a) will differentiate you from your competitors in the minds of the customers, (b) is based on solving customer problems, and (c) will address priority opportunities to improve the organization’s 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, i.e., is the project working.
- 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. Meet regularly on the plan with the expectation that results will be discussed and problems solved.
- Fifth, make the plan and progress/problems available to all the staff, not just the leadership team. 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.