Your top managers must take the lead in collecting relevant facts, setting priorities, weighing competing alternatives and then making choices. And they need to be highly engaged in a process of debate and discussion before decisions are made.
When the focus is on the process, not just the output, it’s easier to make it an ongoing effort. That’s because managers develop a deeper understanding of and buy into the analysis and options that were considered in developing the strategic plan. They’ll also have a greater sense of ownership, and thus be much more willing to keep it up to date.
Set the specifics
Don’t view strategic planning as simply setting long-range goals. A good plan also includes:
- Strategies (broad directions to achieve your goals),
- Programs (shorter term actions required to implement the strategies),
- Metrics (such as incremental market share improvement), and
- Milestones (such as “opening a new store on the decided-upon date”).
In addition, accountability is key. Assign responsible individuals to oversee each strategy or program. And regularly assess their progress against the metrics and milestones.
Be prepared to pivot
Some businesses annually update their strategic plans, whether necessary or not. Although this is better than doing nothing, it may not be sufficient. Always be prepared to “pivot” — or update your plan on the fly — should a market opportunity develop. Need some help aligning your strategic plan with your company’s financials? Please contact us.