Running any business can be all consuming, there is always so much to do. I don’t care whether it is a large public company or a small private company, the challenges are significant, if different, and the resources available to tackle them are also different.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
One of the constants, regardless of size, is the need for strategy… which can come in many forms. It can be the company’s strategic plan, divisional plans or even account plans. At every level there is a need for a “roadmap” and a need to keep that “roadmap” current, which requires regular “checkpoints” to ensure the strategy is still good, and that the execution against strategy is happening as planned.
The problem executives and managers have is that, because they are so busy, it is easy to let these checkpoints slip, or to pay them “lip service”. The result is that companies operate in a very tactical manner… even IF they did the initial planning process well (which is often not the case). They become driven by their days and weeks, rather than driving the activity to meet a strategic objective.
“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.” Roger von Oech
Here are a few things to consider:
Do you have an annual planning process that REALLY looks at the strategy for the coming year? Or do you go through a pure numbers exercise, that looks the same every year?
Do you set aside time to revisit the strategies throughout the year? Are they “rubber stamp” exercises or do they get very focused on the execution against the plan?
Do you have measurable goals that are not just focused on the bottom line?
Do you have account plans with regular reviews?
How do you track you progress against plans?
Do you hold people accountable for their goals?
Do you help managers, salespeople and executives to find time in their busy schedules to actually plan?
Are the management team, in your company, driven by their days, or do they drive their days?
Do you get surprised by events at clients? Decisions, activity levels, competition etc.
How comfortable are you that you have a roadmap for the next year… that has goals, action items, timelines and accountability?
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.” Abraham Lincoln
It is tough to mix Strategy and Tactical execution… to switch between the two regularly is all but impossible. I believe you need to bring separation from the day to day tactical in order to focus on any strategic planning process. Does your company have that discipline?